India experienced a disturbing spike in hate speech incidents targeting its Muslim population in the first half of 2023, according to a report by Hindutva Watch, an organization that monitors attacks on minority groups.
The report documented 255 hate speech incidents, most of which occurred in states preparing for upcoming elections.
However, the report makes it difficult to assess the full extent of this trend due to the lack of historical data for comparison.
It has been reported that 70% of these incidents have been marked in states with elections scheduled in 2023 and 2024. These states include Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. This has further raised concerns about the issue of electoral politics in promoting hate speech.
Most alarming are the calls for violence, conspiracies, and socio-economic bias targeting Muslims in these incidents.
These 80 percent of incidents took place mostly in regions led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This poses a challenge as India approaches general elections in 2024.
Hindutva Watch conducted a rigorous investigation, monitoring the online activities of Hindu nationalist groups, reviewing videos of hate speech on social media, and compiling incidents reported in the media.
In response, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Modi, has denied allegations of mistreatment of minorities.
Human rights groups have long raised concerns about the treatment of Muslims during Modi’s tenure, citing issues such as the 2019 Citizenship Act, anti-conversion legislation, the revocation of Kashmir‘s special status, the demolition of Muslim properties, and the ban on hijabs in Karnataka classrooms.
Addressing these concerns is critical for religious tolerance and the protection of minority rights in India.