BJP Linked to Most Hate Speech in India: Report:
A report released on Monday revealed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s ruling party, along with affiliated groups, were responsible for the majority of hate speech incidents against Muslims in the first half of the year.
According to Hindutva Watch, a Washington DC-based research group that monitors hate crimes and inflammatory speech against minorities in India, approximately 80% of the 255 documented instances of “hate speech gatherings targeting Muslims” occurred in states and union territories governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The report highlighted an “escalating trend” of anti-Muslim speech since Modi’s ascent to power in 2014. It further revealed that more than half of this year’s documented incidents were orchestrated by the ruling BJP and its affiliates, including the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and Sakal Hindu Samaj, which have connections to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP.
In response, Abhay Verma, a senior BJP member in New Delhi, dismissed the report as “totally baseless” and emphasized that the BJP does not support hate speech or division along religious lines.
The report is the first of its kind to document hate speech against Muslims after India’s crime bureau ceased collecting hate crime data in 2017. Hindutva Watch relied on social media and news outlets to compile data, utilizing data scraping techniques and conducting in-depth investigations through journalists and researchers.
Although India lacks an official definition of hate speech, the research group used the United Nations’ language, which characterizes it as “any form” of communication employing “prejudiced or Using prejudiced language against a particular group due to characteristics like religion, ethnicity, nationality, and race.”
The report identified Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat as states with the highest number of hate speech gatherings. Additionally, a third of the documented incidents occurred in states holding legislative elections this year.
Hindutva Watch, which monitored activities in 15 states and two union territories, also noted that approximately 64% of the events promoted anti-Muslim “conspiracy theories,” including allegations that Muslims were enticing Hindu women into marriage for conversion.
In 33% of the events, violence against Muslims was advocated, while 11% encouraged Hindus to boycott Muslims.
The remaining assemblies included “speech filled with hatred and sexism” directed at Muslim women.
The report criticized government officials, including chief ministers, legislators, and senior BJP leaders, for engaging in hate speech rather than combating it themselves.