New York: A recent report has shed light on the growing trend of hate speech events against Muslims in India, primarily attributed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and affiliated groups. The report underscores that this trend has been escalating since Modi came to power in 2014.
According to the report by Hindutva Watch, a research group based in Washington, D.C., approximately 80 percent of the 255 recorded incidents of hate speech against Muslims in the first half of this year occurred in states governed by the BJP. The report’s findings reveal that India’s Muslim population has faced bias and religious persecution under the BJP’s rule, which critics argue is aimed at marginalizing Muslims and transforming India into a Hindu-dominated nation.
This report is significant as it is the first to document instances of anti-Muslim speech after India’s crime bureau stopped collecting hate crime data in 2017. Hindutva Watch compiled data using online open-source information and employed data scraping techniques to identify verified videos of hate crimes. In addition, the team conducted thorough investigations in collaboration with journalists and researchers.
The report indicates that more than half of the documented incidents this year were associated with the ruling BJP and its affiliated groups, including the Bajrang Dal, Sakal Hindu Samaj, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. These groups maintain ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the far-right ideological mentor of the BJP, which was inspired by Germany’s Nazis. Established in 1925, the secretive militia group aims to create an ethnically Hindu state and was temporarily banned in 1948 after one of its members was suspected of assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.
Furthermore, the report reveals that states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan experienced the highest number of hate speech events. Notably, one-third of these documented incidents took place in states scheduled to hold legislative elections this year.
Hindutva Watch’s monitoring activities covered 15 states and two union territories and found that approximately 64 percent of these events promoted anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Additionally, 33 percent involved calls for violence against Muslims, while 11 percent urged Hindus to boycott Muslims. The remaining incidents featured hate-filled and sexist speech targeting Muslim women.
One of the recent tragic incidents involved a mosque in Gurugram, a predominantly Hindu city near New Delhi, coming under attack by a Hindu far-right mob. The mosque was set ablaze, and a 22-year-old imam, Mohammed Saad, was burned alive. This attack occurred shortly after communal violence erupted in Haryana’s Nuh district.
The rise of the Hindu nationalist movement and the mainstreaming of the BJP have contributed to a political climate conducive to hate speech. Hindu nationalist leaders have been involved in promoting exclusionary agendas, and communal violence remains a pressing issue in India. Recently the United Christian Forum (UCF), issued a report stating that in the first 8 months of the current year 2023, there have been 525 attacks against Christians in India.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) has particularly drawn controversy, as it is seen as directly targeting Muslims.
The report highlights that with the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies, hatred against India’s Muslims has reached alarming levels.