Anti-Muslim hate speech incidents in India increased by more than one a day in the first half of 2023, with 255 documented incidents reported mostly in states with upcoming elections, according to a report by Hindutva Watch.
Hindutva Watch, a Washington-based group monitoring attacks on minorities, also reported that there was no comparative data for prior years.
The group used the UN’s definition of hate speech as “any form of communication… that employs prejudiced or discriminatory language towards an individual or group based on attributes such as religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender, or other identity factors.”
The report reveals that 70% of hate speech incidents occurred in states scheduled for elections in 2023 and 2024, with Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat being the most affected.
The majority of hate speech events discussed conspiracy theories, violence, and socio-economic boycotts against Muslims.
Additionally, as expected, about 80% of those incidents occurred in regions where the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is in power and is largely predicted to triumph in the general elections in 2024.
According to Hindutva Watch, the group tracked the online activity of Hindu nationalist groups, verified videos of hate speeches posted on social media, and compiled data on isolated incidents reported by media.
Modi’s government denies the presence of minority abuse. The Indian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.
Rights groups have alleged that Modi mistreated Muslims under his rule, citing a 2019 citizenship law described as “fundamentally discriminatory” by the UN human rights office for excluding Muslim migrants, anti-conversion legislation challenging freedom of belief, and the 2019 revoking of Kashmir’s special status.
They also mention the demolition of Muslim properties for illegal construction and a ban on wearing hijab in classrooms in Karnataka during the BJP’s rule.