Study reveals 668 hate speech cases in 2023, BJP major player Washington D.C. research group, IHL, unveils report on hate speech targeting Indian religious minorities

27, Feb 2024 | CJP Team

The report has revealed harrowing figures of hate speech on the rise in India. The data by the group features BJP, India’s ruling party, as a significant player in the functioning of hate speeches.

The report stated that 498 out of 668 instances of hate speech took place in areas which had a BJP-led government. About 255 of the total number of incidents took place in the 1st half, while 413 took place in the second 2nd half when elections for several states were going to happen. What is further astonishing is that 20% of the instances recorded of hate mentioned the ongoing Gaza siege.

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About 6 out of the top 8 states with the highest number of hate speech events were under BJP rule throughout the year. The remaining 2 states, which underwent legislative elections in 2023, were also governed by the BJP for a substantial part of the year prior to elections.

Interestingly, in October 2023, the report notes, there was a peak in hate speech events across 18 states and 3 union territories with 91 incidents. This peak had happened during ‘election season’ with state assembly elections taking place in states like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, and Mizoram, which reveals that hate speech events are being used to mobilise crowds for electoral gains.

Maharashtra topped the pan-India list with 118 reported anti-Muslim hate speech event taking place in 2023. After Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh comes as a close second with 104 incidents, and Madhya Pradesh in central India with 65 instances.

These states together contributed to 43% of the total hate speech events documented in 2023. The report further details that Haryana and Uttarakhand, both of which have seen multiple kinds of communal unrest this year in 2023, have also experienced consistent hate speech events, with Haryana contributing to 7.2 % of the total number of incidents, and Uttarakhand coming close at 6 %. The report also notes that instances of hate speech also coincide with communal unrest or violence in the place it occurred. An example of this could be Uttarakhand which has witnessed multiple instances of unrest against Muslims, from unsubstantiated accusations of ‘love-jihad’ against Muslims, to the cases of demolition of Muslims properties and religious places.

The report further details that of the hate speech incidents documented, approximately 32%, which comes down to 216 events, were organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal. As a whole, 46 % of the hate speech events, it details, were organised by groups that are ‘directly associated’ with the RSS and its affiliates, such as the VHP, BJP, the Sakal Hindu Samaj, and the Hindu Jagran Vedike which were behind 307 such events, coming down to about 46% all hate speech incidents in the year. The report furthermore details that there is a concerning rise in newer groups that chime in to these hate speech such as groups that are dedicated to cow vigilantism, such as the Gau Raksha Dal which reportedly held around 13 of such events, mostly concentrated in Haryana. Some of the slogans they used include this, “Jab Mulle kate jayenge, Ram Ram Chilayenge,” with the word ‘Mulle’ being used as a slur.

The research group has stated that the standards used by it are those deployed by the United Nations in defining hate speech which includes discriminatory speech, or language that is against a group or individual that is based on religion, ethnicity, nationality, race or gender.

The IHL’s website was reportedly rendered inaccessible by viewers in India in January 2024.


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