May 22, 2024

MOON Desk: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and affiliated groups were behind most hate speech events against Muslims in the first half of the year, according to a report which flagged the escalating trend since Modi rose to power in 2014.

Around 80 percent of the 255 recorded incidents of hate speech against Muslims took place in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bloomberg reported citing a report released on Monday by Hindutva Watch, a DC-based research group that tracks hate speech and crime against minorities in India.

Under the BJP, India’s Muslim population has faced bias and religious persecution, which critics say is aiming to marginalise Muslims and transform India into a Hindu-dominated nation. This report is the first of its kind to record instances of anti-Muslim speech after India’s crime bureau discontinued collecting hate crime data in 2017.

Hindutva Watch relied on online open-source information to accumulate data and then used the data scrapping techniques to locate verified videos of hate crimes. The team then conducted in-depth investigations with the help of journalists and researchers, as outlined in their methodology explanation.

The report saw more than half of the documented incidents this year were conducted by the ruling BJP and affiliates including the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Sakal Hindu Samaj. Those groups have links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, the far-right ideological mentor of (BJP), which was inspired by the Nazis in Germany.

The secretive militia group formed in 1925 aims to create an ethnic Hindu state. It was briefly banned in 1948 after one of its members was suspected of assassinating Mahatma Gandhi, India’s independence movement from the British. The report revealed that Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat experienced the highest number of hate speech events. Notably, one-third of these documented incidents occurred in states slated to hold legislative elections this year.

Hindutva Watch, which monitored activities in 15 states and two union territories, also reported that approximately 64 percent of these events promoted anti-Muslim “conspiracy theories.” Moreover, calls for violence against Muslims were prevalent in 33 percent of these events, while 11 percent involved urging Hindus to boycott Muslims.

The remaining gatherings featured “hate-filled and sexist speech” directed at Muslim women, as outlined in the report. In one of the recent deadly attacks against Muslims in India, a mosque in Gurugram, a predominantly Hindu city next to India’s capital, New Delhi came under attack allegedly by a Hindu far-right mob which set the mosque fire and burned Mohammed Saad, a 22-year-old imam.

The attack occurred hours after a communal violence erupted in the Nuh district in Haryana state.

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