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Maharashtra Recorded Most Hate Speeches in 2023, 70% in Election States: Study

In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

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  • At least 255 incidents of hate speech gatherings targeting Muslims were documented in the first half of 2023.

  • At least 80% of these events occurred in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states and union territories

  • Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat witnessed the highest number of hate speech gatherings

These are some of the findings from a study by 'Hindutva Watch' a Washington-based research group in a report that aimed to document instances of hate speech at events organised by right-wing Hindutva groups against India's Muslims in the first half of 2023.

While the report took into consideration several aspects while adopting the United Nations' framework to define hate speech, it focussed on recorded incidents of hate speeches at public gatherings across states.

Here are the details, methodology, and key findings of the report:

Maharashtra Recorded Most Hate Speeches in 2023, 70% in Election States: Study

  1. 1. How Was the Report Curated? How Were Incidents Verified?

    Employing data-scraping techniques, the organisation tracked activities and verifiable videos of right-wing Hindutva outfits and their members on all social media platforms.

    The organisation also referred to media reports by credible news organisations to compile comprehensive data of events.

    The findings were then analysed by a team of researchers and journalists.

    The hate speeches were categorised as follows:

    • The organisations involved

    • Incidents in BJP-ruled states

    • Direct call for violence

    • Call for boycott of Muslims

    • Events in election states

    • Calls for arms

    • Speeches targeting Muslim women

    • Speeches by BJP leaders

    • Propagating conspiracy theories like love jihad, land jihad, economic jihad, thook jihad, UPSC jihad, etc.

    In the report, the organisation said: "This dataset isn’t a complete account of hate speech incidents in India. There are many incidents for which no footage exists or where the footage is unverifiable. The data discussed in this report is a preliminary attempt at providing a snapshot of the nature and geographic spread of hate speech events in India. "

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  2. 2. What States Did the Hate Speeches Peak In?

    Geographically, the incidents were predominantly observed in India’s northern, western, and central regions, where "the BJP wields significant electoral and ideological influence," according to the report, while the eastern and southern India reported limited or no such incidents.

    The top states for recorded hate speeches were Maharashtra (74), Karnataka (26), Madhya Pradesh (25), Rajasthan (25), and Gujarat (20).

    In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

    One key observation in the report was that majority of the incidents (70%) were reported from states where elections were either due in 2023 or are scheduled to take place soon. Among the top states that recorded such incidents, Karnataka (where Congress toppled BJP) faced elections in May this year while Rajasthan (Congress-ruled) and Madhya Pradesh (BJP-ruled) will go to polls in November and December.

    In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

    Alarmingly, 29% of the total incidents were recorded in Maharashtra which has seen a spate of communal riots in the past year including Kolhapur, Akola, Sambhaji Nagar, and Satara among others.

    In April this year, The Quint had reported on the loopholes in police investigation surrounding reported hate speeches in Maharashtra. The Quint has also highlighted how a spate of rallies and events organised across the state under the banner of Sakal Hindu Samaj against love jihad and land jihad have witnessed hate speeches.

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  3. 3. Love Jihad, Total Boycott of Muslim Businesses: Categories of Conspiracy Theories

    According to the report, over 51% of the incidents propagated conspiracy theories against Muslims including those of love jihad, land jihad, and socio-economic boycott.

    Here are some key findings around the claims made and calls given against Muslims in these speeches:

    • 11% of the speeches involved a direct call for the socio-economic boycott

    • 13% speeches were given by BJP leaders, including former Karnataka chief minister KS Eeshwarappa, Kapil Mishra, the Vice President of BJP Delhi, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Member of Parliament Pragya Thakur.

    • The report also mentioned Telangana MLA and former BJP leader T Raja Singh and Sudarshan TV news anchor Suresh Chavanke as key speakers in several hate speech events, specifically in Maharashtra.

    • Almost 33% events called for violence calls to violence by Hindutva groups, including calls for genocide and destruction of places of worship.

    • 12% of these events have calls to possess arms

    • 11 speeches directly targeted Muslim women

    • "The proportion of events involving conspiracy theories, speeches by BJP leaders, and calls for boycotting were relatively similar in both BJP and non-BJP-ruled states," the report said.

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  4. 4. The Organisations Involved

    According to the report, RSS' wing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its student body Bajrang Dal organised at least 62 of the 255 incidents.

    The other outfits organising such events including Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (30), Sakal Hindu Samaj (26), and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (22).

    In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

    Approximately 205/255 (80%) were documented in BJP-ruled states, including an additional 15 events in the national capital and Jammu & Kashmir, the report stated.

    In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

How Was the Report Curated? How Were Incidents Verified?

Employing data-scraping techniques, the organisation tracked activities and verifiable videos of right-wing Hindutva outfits and their members on all social media platforms.

The organisation also referred to media reports by credible news organisations to compile comprehensive data of events.

The findings were then analysed by a team of researchers and journalists.

The hate speeches were categorised as follows:

  • The organisations involved

  • Incidents in BJP-ruled states

  • Direct call for violence

  • Call for boycott of Muslims

  • Events in election states

  • Calls for arms

  • Speeches targeting Muslim women

  • Speeches by BJP leaders

  • Propagating conspiracy theories like love jihad, land jihad, economic jihad, thook jihad, UPSC jihad, etc.

In the report, the organisation said: "This dataset isn’t a complete account of hate speech incidents in India. There are many incidents for which no footage exists or where the footage is unverifiable. The data discussed in this report is a preliminary attempt at providing a snapshot of the nature and geographic spread of hate speech events in India. "

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What States Did the Hate Speeches Peak In?

Geographically, the incidents were predominantly observed in India’s northern, western, and central regions, where "the BJP wields significant electoral and ideological influence," according to the report, while the eastern and southern India reported limited or no such incidents.

The top states for recorded hate speeches were Maharashtra (74), Karnataka (26), Madhya Pradesh (25), Rajasthan (25), and Gujarat (20).

In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

One key observation in the report was that majority of the incidents (70%) were reported from states where elections were either due in 2023 or are scheduled to take place soon. Among the top states that recorded such incidents, Karnataka (where Congress toppled BJP) faced elections in May this year while Rajasthan (Congress-ruled) and Madhya Pradesh (BJP-ruled) will go to polls in November and December.

In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

Alarmingly, 29% of the total incidents were recorded in Maharashtra which has seen a spate of communal riots in the past year including Kolhapur, Akola, Sambhaji Nagar, and Satara among others.

In April this year, The Quint had reported on the loopholes in police investigation surrounding reported hate speeches in Maharashtra. The Quint has also highlighted how a spate of rallies and events organised across the state under the banner of Sakal Hindu Samaj against love jihad and land jihad have witnessed hate speeches.

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Love Jihad, Total Boycott of Muslim Businesses: Categories of Conspiracy Theories

According to the report, over 51% of the incidents propagated conspiracy theories against Muslims including those of love jihad, land jihad, and socio-economic boycott.

Here are some key findings around the claims made and calls given against Muslims in these speeches:

  • 11% of the speeches involved a direct call for the socio-economic boycott

  • 13% speeches were given by BJP leaders, including former Karnataka chief minister KS Eeshwarappa, Kapil Mishra, the Vice President of BJP Delhi, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Member of Parliament Pragya Thakur.

  • The report also mentioned Telangana MLA and former BJP leader T Raja Singh and Sudarshan TV news anchor Suresh Chavanke as key speakers in several hate speech events, specifically in Maharashtra.

  • Almost 33% events called for violence calls to violence by Hindutva groups, including calls for genocide and destruction of places of worship.

  • 12% of these events have calls to possess arms

  • 11 speeches directly targeted Muslim women

  • "The proportion of events involving conspiracy theories, speeches by BJP leaders, and calls for boycotting were relatively similar in both BJP and non-BJP-ruled states," the report said.

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The Organisations Involved

According to the report, RSS' wing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its student body Bajrang Dal organised at least 62 of the 255 incidents.

The other outfits organising such events including Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (30), Sakal Hindu Samaj (26), and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (22).

In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

Approximately 205/255 (80%) were documented in BJP-ruled states, including an additional 15 events in the national capital and Jammu & Kashmir, the report stated.

In a report, Washington-based organisation 'Hindutva Watch' analysed hate speeches in India against Muslims.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Hate Speech   Hate Speech Cases 

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