26, May 2023 | CJP Team
CJP busts BJP Leader’s claims that Hindu’s have been reduced to a minority in 200 districts of India? CJP’s team scoured through government data, including past census data, to fact check this claim and reveal the sinister anti-Minority nature of this claim.
This article is the second of a four-part series of Hate-Busters by CJP. It dives into alarmist claims made by far-right politicians, fact-checks, and presents them to you. Part 2 of the series examines and debunks the contents spoken by Supreme Court Advocate and former BJP Delhi Spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay, who has been, who has been making certain claims about the diminishing Hindu population in India allegedly based on statistical data.
The Supreme Court has rebuked the advocate for repeated attempts to ‘target Muslims’ amidst other prejudice-laced legal measures. While these statements may be attributed to Upadhyay, the individual, they are but stray examples of an ecosystem of hate, generated, created, and sustained by money, right wing organisational power all coalescing into bedrock of wider party propaganda. Once generated in a speech, book or an ill-conceived PIL in the Supreme Court of India (remember the SC in earlier times dismissed his efforts with sharp rebukes six times!), they are unstoppable, take on a life off their own outside of the television, internet, and instant messaging applications. Their goal is clear, it is to further entrench hate in society.
Below are relevant excerpts from Ashwini Upadhyay’s segment in a show titled “Is India Moving Towards Partition”, telecast by Capital TV with host and editor-in-chief of Capital TV, Dr Manish Kumar. The segment, in full, can be found here.
Extracts from his speech:
“Maine jo PIL file kia hai usme main khud ke aankde diye hue hain. Ladakh mein keval Hindu population 1 % bache hue hai, Mizoram mein keval 2 % (Hindu) bacha hua hai, Lakshadweep mein keval 2 % percent (Hindu) bache hue hai, Kashmir mein keval 2 % (Hindu) bache hua hain, Nagaland, mein keval 2 % (Hindu) bache hue hain. Meghalaya mein 11 % Hindu bache hue hain, Arunachal mein keval 28 % bache hue hai. Aise hi Bharat ke 9 rajyon mein khatm ho chuka hai. Zille – waar dekhein toh 200 zilley mein.”
Translated: “I have given my own data for the PIL I have filed. In Ladakh, only 1 % of Hindus remain. In Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, and Nagaland have been reduced to 2 % of Hindus, respectively. Meghalaya has 8 % Hindus remaining; in Arunachal (Pradesh) Hindus have been reduced to 28 %. This is a state-wise list. If we look at districts, it is about 200 districts (where Hindus have diminished in population).”
CLAIM: ‘Hindus have been reduced to a minority in 200 districts’
BUSTED: A CJP analysis finds that complex facts about India’s population and its distribution across the country have been cherry-picked and deliberately oversimplified to spread this lie and mislead people. While there are certain states and union territories which have the preponderance of other religious groups, such as Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians, for instance, in the North-East, Kashmir, Ladakh and Lakshadweep, and there is no data to suggest that post-partition, the number of Hindus as a percentage of the total population has changed in other districts. Hence the idea that this is part of a wider conspiracy begets some scrutiny.
This data seems to be first used by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay in the Supreme Court while asking for minority status for Hindus in 9 Indian states.
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While these statements may be Upadhyay’s, these are oft-repeated claims and assertions that continue to take a life off their own outside of the television, internet, and instant messaging applications and serve to further entrench hate in society. These claims, considered to hold weight because they are said on a TV show, are often replicated and spread like wildfire across social networking sites like Twitter and are used for disinformation campaigns that end up maligning minority groups. including by hate-mongers like Kajal Hindustani.
As is clear from his speech, Mr Upadhyay is saying many things at the same time. Not only is he claiming that the demography of 200 districts of India has unnaturally changed, but the change seems to be orchestrated carefully by either illegal immigration, uncontrolled population growth or exodus of Hindus or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s begin by asking some questions to probe the insinuations made by Upadhyaya.
What is the real picture?
According to a Dainik Bhaskar report, according to the 2011 census, there were 640 districts in India. An analysis of the districts by Dainik Bhaskar reveals that in only 102 districts of the country, Hindus are in the minority.
In fact, the Dainik Bhaskar infographic reveals that Hindus are a majority in all districts of 15 Indian states.
Source: Dainik Bhaskar
Furthermore, according to a US-based think tank, Pew Research Institute report, Hindus predominate in 28 of India’s 35 states and union territories as of the 2011 census, including all states with the highest population.
The following is a graphical representation of the distribution of religious groups across the country by the Pew Research Centre based on census data of the government of India. It clearly shows that most of the major states in India have a high population of Hindus in the majority.
At the same time, it can be seen that while Sikhs and Christians form majorities in smaller states, Muslims and Buddhists form majorities only in union territories.
So in effect, Hindus are a minority in 102 districts of India and not 200 as claimed by Upadhyay according to the 2011 census.
Have Muslims become a majority in many of these districts?
In various parts of the interview, Advocate Upadhyay implies that Muslims now dominate many of these districts.
A state-by-state cross-check of the data by Upadhyay reveals massive discrepancies in the number of districts where Muslims are a majority.
|S. No.||State||No. of districts||No. of districts with a Hindu majority||No. of districts with a Muslim majority||Ashwini Upadhyay’s claim on districts dominated by Muslims|
Source: Table based on data provided on https://www.census2011.co.in/data/religion/2-muslims.html
Let us look at more numbers. In the 7 states and union territories where Hindus are not the numerically dominant community, Muslims don’t form a majority – contrary to Upadhyay’s claims.
Source: Dainik Bhaskar
According to the 2011 census of India, there are certain states where Christians form a majority – such as Nagaland, with the highest proportion of Christians at 87.93 %, with Mizoram closely following at 87.16 %, and Meghalaya at 74 %. Similarly, Sikhs form a majority in Punjab, constituting about 57.69, the only state with a single large population of a religious group that is not Christian, Hindu, or Muslim.
Source: Census of India, 2011.
Could there have been significant illegal migration that has changed this demography?
The then-Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sriprakash Jaiswal, informed the parliament in 2004 that there were 12 million illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India. However, he withdrew his statement later due to objections from the state governments in West Bengal and Assam, where he claimed the majority of the illegal migrants resided.
In 2016, Kiren Rijiju, who was then the Minister of State for Home Affairs, stated in India’s parliament that “as per available information, there are approximately 20 million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in India.” Nonetheless, he did not cite any sources for this claim, and the government has now acknowledged that it lacks accurate data on the number of illegal immigrants in India. Rijiju with a notorious record for offensive remarks against the independence of India’s Supreme Court and higher judiciary has only on May 17-18 been removed from the post and delegated to the ministry of earth sciences.
The rigorously conducted but heavily disputed Assam’s NRC excluded only 19,00,000 people from its final list. CJP’s experience in providing legal and paralegal assistance to disenfranchised citizens in over two dozen of the state’s districts reveals that large numbers of these 19,00,000 have been arbitrarily excluded.
Assuming all or some of these controversial numbers are true, it still does not explain a major shift in demographic ratios since the 2011 census.
In fact the Pew Research Institute’s report also concludes that migration and religious conversion have had little effect on the religious demographics in India. According to government data, there is no unusual increase of illegal immigrants in India on the Bangladesh border – a testament to India’s rigorous system of border patrol and strong mechanisms present to prevent large-scale illegal migration – which Upadhyay’s claim, inadvertently or otherwise, contradicts.
Has there been an exodus of Hindus out of these districts?
There is little to no available data that can tell us there have been forced migrations or resettlement of Hindu refugees in post-partition India, apart from the ghastly exodus of the Kashmiri pandits in the 1990s.
Has ‘uncontrolled’ Muslim births changed the demography of these districts?
According to the data, no. The census data shows that Muslim fertility rate has slowed down, in fact – the Muslim population has only increased by 4.4 % in over six decades of independence. On being asked whether Muslims will ever ‘overtake’ Hindus, in terms of population figures, Devendra Kothari, former chairperson of the national committee to review family welfare programmes in India, states that according to existing mathematical models, the Muslim population cannot overtake Hindu populations in even a 1000 years. This data and analysis take down any conspiracy of declining population figures for Hindu communities.
Why does Upadhyay think being a ‘minority’ bodes ill for the Hindus?
Looking at existing data from various angles, it is clear that Upadhyay’s claim that Hindus ‘have been reduced to a minority’ in 200 districts of India seems far-fetched. However, on a hypothetical note, if we assume that it is true that Hindus are a minority in certain districts of India, why exactly is this a reason for worry in a country with constitutional safeguards for minorities, the rule of law and the freedom to practice the religion of her choice? Does he not believe in the Constitution, or is it possible that Upadhyay is joining issues with those who believe that India’s minorities are facing an unprecedented attack from those in power? Is this irrational fear of the divide between ‘minority-majority’ once famously spoken by none other than the Prime Minister of India at an election rally a mere reflection of a worldview that sees minorities as ‘others’ and not fellow Indians?
Who is Ashwini Upadhyay?
Ashwini Upadhyay has formerly also been spokesperson for the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, more than his political prowess, he is known for his voracious pattern of filing PILs (Public Interest Litigation) in the Supreme Court on matters mainly pertaining to communal issues. Upadhyay has filed PILs various PILs in India’s apex court, ranging from petitions to grant minority status to Hindus to demanding the name changes of several places named after Mughal rulers. According to a 2018 report by the New Indian Express, Upadhyaya holds a record of filing 50 PILs in 5 years. Many of his claims, especially on his social media, often seem to reflect a decided bias against Muslims and Christians. These claims, four of which have been debunked by CJP, often veer on the edge of misinformation and propaganda.
Here’s a detailed profile of the man himself
Hate needs to be busted both effectively and quickly. Widespread citizens involvement in stopping its spread is key.
Image Courtesy: Twitter