Hate Surges in India, Reveal Disturbing Shifts in Patterns Communal forces deploy new tactics as the number of hate speech, and incidents of violence against religious minorities increase

28, Jul 2023 | CJP Team

CJP’s public hate tracking resource has resulted in revealing new data about the shifts in patterns about Hindutva and its political mobilisation in the country. By closely tracking incidents of caste and communal violence, it has been noted that there is less an emphasis on communal riots but a concentrated effort has been made to foment communalism in India by hate speech, hate conferences, resolutions for economic boycott of Muslims and for mob lynching’s of Dalits and Muslims.

On the part of the state, demolition of houses and legal persecution of minorities, and impunity to Hindutva hardliners who are engaged in communal violence and hate speech continues. Hindutva forces on ground have even found newer modes of organising to unite despite the existence of multiple organisations, as seen in the case of Maharashtra. While the data provided is extensive and detailed, it is by no means exhaustive, especially with relation to gender and caste based violence. CJP has collected and verified data social media, newspaper reports, and its own sources.

CJP is dedicated to finding and bringing to light instances of Hate Speech, so that the bigots propagating these venomous ideas can be unmasked and brought to justice. To learn more about our campaign against hate speech, please become a member. To support our initiatives, please donate now!

Where did this shift begin? 

In Uttar Pradesh, after the BJP’s defeat in 2004 Hindutva forces adopted another approach which involved instead of large-scale state-wide riots, there has been noted a contrived effort to maintain an undercurrent of communal tension and foster frequent, small-scale incidents around minor everyday issues. The party’s defeat in 2004 was attributed largely in part to the 2002 Gujarat riots. This new strategy aims to perpetuate communalism at the grassroots level and maintain a simmering state of polarisation. Groups like the Bajrang Dal and Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) under Yogi Adityanath have been instrumental in implementing this polarising means. Thereby, this reveals that patterns of communal violence have undergone a wide shift, as scholars Sudha Pai and Sajjan Kumar note in their book Everyday Communalism: Riots in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh (2018).

However, the situation changed once the BJP came to power in 2017, yet Muslims continued to be the primary target of Hindu vigilantes, as evidenced by a series of lynchings. Their plight is dire due to the frequent collusion between the police and vigilante groups. The usual scenario involved inciting communal clashes, which the HYV excelled at, with the objective of attacking Muslim homes and businesses and when the police intervened, their actions were more geared towards apprehending the victims rather than the perpetrators of the violence.

To further suppress the targeted individuals, the police frequently uses laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the National Security Act. These laws are typically meant to deal with criminals posing a threat to national security and allow for individuals to be detained without charge for up to 12 months. In 2017 alone, 160 Muslims were arrested under the National Security Act.

In recent times, there has been a troubling trend of concerted efforts to persecute Muslims and marginalize them through various means, including economic boycotts and house demolitions. Muslims have been targeted through systematic economic discrimination wherein they face boycotts in business as well as employment opportunities, leading to financial instability and systematic exclusion from mainstream economic activities. Additionally, there have been instances of targeted house demolitions, where Muslim homes and businesses have been razed under the pretext of legal issues or urban development or even justified as punishment. 

Maharashtra Coalition Model of Mobilisation 

According to the Indian Express, in Maharashtra a coalition of several right-wing Hindu nationalist groups has emerged under the name Sakal Hindu Samaj. The organisation has been actively organising public gatherings across Maharashtra, drawing large crowds and gaining attention for its saffron-themed events. Led by influential figures like Suresh Chavhanke who is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sudarshan News, and hardline leader Kalicharan Maharaj alias Abhijeet Dhananjay Saraag. The coalition group has been making headlines for its contentious activities across the year. 

The origins of the term Sakal Hindu can be traced back to a poem penned by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a prominent figure known as the father of Hindutva. Savarkar’s composition, “Tumhi Aamhi Sakal Hindu, Bandhu Bandhu,” written during his imprisonment in 1922, which sought to ‘unitr’ Hindus by appealing to communal feelings of all Hindus, and giving a call to transcend divisions of caste and region. This theme resonates with the Sakal Hindu Samaj’s mission, as stated by its members and leaders, who see the organisation as a platform for all Hindus to come together.

Despite the group’s growing prominence and influence, there is limited information available on its official background and formation. Nevertheless, it has been making waves since June 2022, with a rally in Rajasthan’s Ajmer protesting against the alleged disrespect of Hindu culture and deities in the district.

One of the defining aspects of the Sakal Hindu Samaj’s gatherings is the fervent use of saffron, symbolising their allegiance to Hindu nationalism. These events have drawn significant attendance, with the Nashik rally attracting an estimated 4,000-5,000 people. Suresh Chavhanke’s presence as a speaker, known for broadcasting controversial and communally charged speeches on Sudarshan News, adds to the group’s notoriety.

Moreover, the participation of notable politicians from parties like the BJP and the Shiva Sena, such as Maharashtra Cabinet Ministers Sandipan Bhumare, Atul Save, and MLAs Pradeep Jaiswal and Shivendra Raje Bhosale, has brought further attention to these events revealing the tacit and active approval of their divisive agenda by political leaders of ruling parties.

However, the Sakal Hindu Samaj and its polarising tactics have not remained without objection from civil society. CJP raised concerns about the group’s events promoting hate speech, demanding central laws against ‘love jihad,’ religious conversion, and cow slaughter. On 3rd February 2023, the CJP wrote to Supriya Sule, a member of the Lok Sabha representing Baramati, Maharashtra, regarding the proposed event of Sakal Hindu Samaj scheduled for February 9 in Baramati, Maharashtra.

The contentious and disturbing presence of Hindutva leaders like Kajal Shingla, also known as Kajal ‘Hindusthani, who frequently speaks at the gatherings organised by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, has also sparked questions over the group’s inclinations toward bigoted ideas and hatred.

What is notable is that the Sakal Hindu Samaj has rapidly gained momentum as a coalition of right-wing Hindu nationalist outfits, organising prominent saffron-themed public gatherings across Maharashtra. While its origins remain somewhat obscure, its message of mobilising all Hindus resonates with the sentiments expressed in Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s poem.

Analysis of Hate Incidents by CJP in 23 States between December 2022 and June 2023

During the past six months, CJP’s hate map or Nafrat ka Naqsha has documented incidents from 23 states in India, covering events that occurred between 14th December 2022 and 30th June 2023. Maharashtra leads the tally with 85 recorded hate incidents, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 59 incidents, Madhya Pradesh with 48, and Rajasthan with 44 incidents.



CJP’s Nafrat ka Naqsha categorises incidents into hate speech, communal Intimidation, communal violence, caste, gender and ethnic violence/discrimination, cow vigilantism and lynching, as well as incidents of everyday harmony. The map details the events along with the names of individuals, groups, and organisations involved in these incidents.

For Maharashtra, the state with the highest number of incidents, a total of 85 incidents were recorded, with 43 falling under hate speech and communal intimidation. Sakal Hindu Samaj organized 25 such events of hate speech and communal intimidation. Other groups involved in such incidents were Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (6 events), VHP, Bajrang Dal, International Hindu Council, and Rashtriya Bajrang Dal (9 events). Noteworthy speakers delivering hate speeches in the state were Kalicharan Maharaj (8 times), Suresh Chavhanke (6 times), Raja Singh (4 times), and Kajal Singhla and Praveen Togadia (2 times each). Additionally, in a troubling development, incidents of cow vigilantism and lynching have surfaced in Maharashtra. The hate map by CJP registered 6 such cases, including 2 cases within a week in Nashik, with the involvement of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal in one case. Communal violence incidents during and after the Ram Navami procession have also been reported in the state. 

It can be observed from CJP’s data that Maharashtra has seen a surge in hate incidents in recent times, with hate speech becoming a prominent issue. Certain individuals, groups, and organisations, that often overlap with members and participants in the Sakal Hindi Samaj events, have been recurrently involved in organising programs that promote hate speech and contribute to a hostile atmosphere in both the country and the state.

Uttar Pradesh, in the past six months, according to CJP’s database, Uttar Pradesh has witnessed 54 recorded incidents, depicting a concerning pattern of hate speech, communal intimidation, caste, and gender-related violence. Among these incidents, 12 were associated with hate speech and communal intimidation while 17 involved violence related to caste and gender issues. Noteworthy figures, such as Sadhvi Prachi, Suresh Chavhanke, Bajrang Muni, and Jagadguru Paramhans, have been linked to propagating hate speech. In addition to this, two cases of cow vigilantism were registered, one involving the Bajrang Dal. The statistics reveal the active presence of three organisations – Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Bajrang Dal, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad – who have been implicated in ten incidents in one way or another. Despite this alarming trend, there has been only one instance of communal harmony observed in Uttar Pradesh during this period. These statistics underscore the occurrence of hate speech, communal intimidation in the state at the same time, revealing a multi-pronged approach to inciting communalism.

 In 2023, a total of 428 incidents were recorded in 23 states, with Maharashtra having the highest number of incidents and Manipur and Tripura having the least. Hate speech and communal incidents were the most prevalent in all states. Maharashtra had 85 incidents, with almost half related to hate speech and communal intimidation and 6 incidents of communal harmony.

In Madhya Pradesh, there were 48 incidents, including 21 incidents of hate speech and communal intimidation, 4 incidents of cow vigilantism and lynching, and 7 incidents of communal violence (4 in Khandwa). Outfits like Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindi Parishad, and International Hind Parishad were involved in 13 incidents. Hate speeches were given by Raja Singh, Kapil Mishra, Kajal Singhla, and Praveen Togadia. There was only one incident of communal harmony.

Rajasthan had 44 incidents, with 33 related to hate speech and communal intimidation, often organized jointly by VHP and Bajrang Dal. Bajrang Dal was directly involved in 25 places. There were 2 incidents of caste violence and gender violence, and 3 incidents of communal violence. Cow vigilantism and lynching occurred in 3 instances, and there was 1 incident of ethnic violence. Hate speeches were delivered by Ishwar Lal, Ramdev Baba, Sadhvi Prachi, and Raja Singh.

Karnataka recorded 31 incidents, including 5 incidents of communal violence (3 involving Bajrang Dal), 5 incidents of hate speech and communal intimidation, and 8 incidents of election hate speech. Hate speeches were given by Pramod Muthalik, Raja Singh, and the Chief Minister of Assam. There were 3 incidents of caste violence, 1 incident of cow vigilantism, 2 incidents of gender violence, and 1 incident of online harassment. Communal harmony was observed on 3 occasions.

Haryana witnessed 25 incidents, with 9 incidents of cow vigilantism and lynching (5 involving Bajrang Dal, 3 by Gau Rakshak Dal), 4 incidents of communal violence (2 during Ram Navami processions), and 12 incidents of hate speech and communal intimidation. Active organizations included Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Praveen Togadia. No incidents of communal harmony were reported.

In Gujarat, there were 19 incidents, including 13 incidents of hate speech and communal intimidation. Kajal Hindustani delivered 4 hate speeches, Praveen Togadia gave 3, and Dhirendra Shastri delivered 1. There was 1 incident of gender violence and 2 incidents of Ram Navami Procession cum Communal Violence.

Delhi recorded 18 incidents, with 12 related to hate speech and communal intimidation. Hate speeches were given by Suresh Chavhanke, Suraj Pal Amu, Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, Kajal Hindustani, and Pravin Togadia. There were 2 incidents of communal violence, 2 Ram Navami Processions, 1 incident of cow vigilantism, and 1 incident of gender violence.

Bihar had 15 incidents, with 5 incidents of communal intimidation/violence and hate speech during Ram Navami Procession. There were 3 incidents of communal violence, 3 incidents of cow vigilantism and lynching, and 2 incidents of caste violence. Praveen Togadia delivered a hate speech.

Telangana had 14 incidents, including 6 incidents of hate speech and communal intimidation. There were 2 Ram Navami Processions, 2 incidents of communal violence, 3 incidents of caste violence, and 1 incident of ethnic violence. Hate speeches were delivered by Raja Singh and the Chief Minister of Assam.

Jharkhand witnessed 9 incidents, with 3 incidents of communal violence, 3 incidents of hate speech and communal intimidation, 2 incidents of Ram Navami Procession, and 1 incident of cow vigilantism. Active organizations included VHP and Bajrang Dal.

Chhattisgarh had 8 incidents, including 5 incidents of hate speech and communal incidents, 2 incidents of ethnic violence, and 1 incident of communal violence. Rashtriya Bajrang Dal and Bajrang Dal were active here.

Assam recorded 6 incidents, including 3 incidents of hate speech (delivered by Hemant Vishwa Sharma and Praveen Togadia), 2 incidents of communal violence, and 1 incident of cow vigilantism.

Jammu and Kashmir had 5 incidents, including 2 incidents of hate speech, 1 incident of communal intimidation, 1 Ram Navami Procession, and 1 incident of cow vigilantism. Bajrang Dal and International Hindu Parishad were involved in 4 of these incidents.

Punjab recorded 4 incidents, including 2 incidents of communal intimidation, 1 incident of caste violence, and 1 incident of cow vigilantism.

Kerala had 4 incidents, with 3 incidents related to communal harmony and 1 incident of communal intimidation involving Durga Vahini.

Tamil Nadu witnessed 4 incidents, including 1 incident of hate speech, 1 incident of caste violence, and 2 incidents of caste discrimination.

Goa recorded 4 incidents, with all related to hate speech and communal intimidation by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Hate speeches were delivered by Ranjit Savarkar, Kapil Mishra, Hari Shankar Jain, and Yati Chetannad Saraswati.

Himachal Pradesh had 4 incidents, with 2 incidents of communal violence and 2 incidents of communal intimidation. Bajrang Dal was active in the state.

Manipur had 1 incident of ethnic violence, and Tripura had 1 incident of communal violence.

The data reveals a total of 428 incidents across 23 states. Hate speech and communal incidents were the most prevalent in all states. Maharashtra had the highest number of incidents, while Manipur and Tripura had the least. Apart from Karnataka and Telengana, the northern states of UP, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra and Gujarat seem to have a high number of communal incidents. It is to be noted that Maharashtra and Rajasthan both have opposition party government, yet despite that the number of communally charged incidents run high in these states. It is also apparent from the data above that there is a coherence in the kind of communal incidents across the country. The frequency of large scale riots is low, but incidents of lynching, protesting against ‘outsiders’ or ‘love-jihad, and conferences with hate speech are on the rise. These coupled with legal persecution of minorities has paved the way to create an unsafe country for the marginalised.

Hate Speech across the country

In 2017, India witnessed the highest number of recorded hate speech and hate crime cases. Hindutva groups, particularly those associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been identified as the main promoters of hate speech and hate crimes in the country. During the tenure of the BJP, there has been a notable increase in communal hate-mongering.

According to a recent report by ANHAD, hate speech and hate crimes have predominantly targeted Muslims at 73.3% of all hate speech, and Christians were targeted in about 26.7% all the incidents in India. Notably, hate speech incidents against Muslims, 61.6%, outweigh hate crime incidents at 38.4% in terms of percentage.

Over the years, there has been a gradual shift where hate crimes against Muslims have started to exceed hate speech incidents, indicating that hate speeches have contributed to the rise of hate crimes against Muslims in India.

For the Christian community, the percentage of hate crimes was recorded to be 96% higher than that of hate speech. 

Although the percentage of hate crimes against Christians may appear higher than that against Muslims, the actual numerical value remains greater for Muslims.

Images from a Dharam Sansad in Uttarakhand

Communal Experiments: the case of Uttarakhand

In Uttarakhand, the communal divide is deepening day by day since 2022. It has been causing immense distress and fear among the Muslim communities, who make up less than 14% of the state’s population. For the first time, according to a report by NewsClick, they are facing an openly communal campaign, even with the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the election campaign in 2022, there were subtle warnings against the Congress party, suggesting they planned to settle Rohingya Muslims in Uttarakhand to erode the state’s culture and religious traditions. However, since then it has only been a downward trek.

This venomous atmosphere of hatred has seeped into the political landscape. Ordinary citizens point out that the ruling BJP benefits from using them as hate objects to fuel their propaganda machinery and maintain their hate-driven campaign. The situation also reportedly worsened due to infighting within the Congress party.

Speaking to NewsClick, political analyst SMA Kazmi here highlights how anti-Muslim rumours were spread through social media leading to attacks on various Muslim-owned establishments. 

According to this report, the process of communalisation in Uttarakhand began in 2017, during the tenure of Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. Acts of violence, such as the targeting and burning of Muslim shops, followed the murder of a local Hindu man near Rishikesh. The campaign gained momentum, often fuelled by rumours, as authorities failed to provide a counter-narrative to control the violence and hate. This further emboldened mobs to attack small Muslim-owned businesses.

The discourse of hate has been freely, and easily, propagated by politicians within the state. For instance, a BJP Member of Legislative Assembly, Mahendra Bhatt, posted on Facebook urging people not to buy vegetables from Muslim traders. The pinnacle of this hate campaign was the Dharam Sansad in Haridwar, where Hindu sants, led by Narsinghanand Saraswati, called for the “extermination of the 20 million Muslim population.”

This new model of communalism in Uttarakhand is characterized by the exploitation of religious divisions for political gains and the spread of hatred through social media platforms and political rallies. The minority Muslim community has become a vulnerable target of violence and discrimination, as communal tensions continue to escalate.

Attacks against Christians 

According to government reports, as reported by Outlook India, there have been incidents of violence against Christians, resulting in the destruction of 395 churches and over 5,600 houses, and the ransacking of more than 600 villages. The estimated death toll exceeds 500, with many Christian families being burned alive. Additionally, thousands of Christians were forcibly converted to Hinduism or faced further violence.

Since 2014, attacks against Christians have increased, with anti-Christian hate crimes doubling, as reported by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. 2015 was particularly severe, marked as the worst year for Indian Christians since the country gained independence. The Catholic Secular Forum’s data reveals 365 major attacks on Christian individuals and institutions in that year, focused on practicing and spreading their faith. Among the attacks, Delhi witnessed six incidents, including alleged arson on churches and acts of vandalism.

In the following years, violence against Christians continued, with at least 305 recorded incidents in the first nine months of 2021, according to a fact-finding report by the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights, United against Hate, and United Christian Forum. Some of these incidents were reported in states such as Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

One particularly horrifying incident occurred on October 3, 2021, when a prayer house in Roorkee was reportedly vandalized by a mob of around 250 people. The attack was triggered by accusations of illegal conversions against Pentecostal evangelist Prio Sadhna Potter and those who were present at the scene.


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