Two human rights groups have flagged the increasing insecurity of religious minorities in India.
The half-yearly report of Hindutva Watch, a US-based research project, “Anti-Muslim Hate Speech Events in India”, referred to “255 documented incidents of hate speech gatherings targeting Muslims in the first half of 2023…. Overwhelmingly, 205 (80 per cent) of these hate speech events occurred in BJP-ruled states and Union territories.”
The report added: “Overall, 42 per cent of all hate speech gatherings in 17
states, which include two centrally controlled territories, were organized by groups affiliated with the RSS…. A concerning 33 per cent of all the gatherings explicitly called for violence against Muslims.”
Hindutva Watch pointed out that “Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat witnessed the highest number of hate speech gatherings, with Maharashtra accounting for 29 per cent of such incidents…. In total, nearly 70 per cent of these events were reported in states with legislative elections either in 2023 or 2024.”
The report comes at a time the Opposition has demanded the suspension of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri from the Lok Sabha for his bigoted remarks against BSP MP Danish Ali in the House. The Speaker has warned Bidhuri, and his party has showcaused him. Two of Bidhuri’s party colleagues later claimed that he was provoked by Ali.
Last year, the BJP removed two of its spokespersons after their intemperate remarks led to riots and international outrage.
Earlier this month, an Indian NGO, the United Christian Forum (UCF), said that 525 violent attacks on Christians took place in the first eight months of this year. There has been a steady increase in the number of attacks recorded by the UCF since 2014 when it listed 147 such incidents.
The data from 23 states does not include Manipur where police have said that 254 churches and 132 temples were damaged until September 14 in the ongoing clashes, mainly between Meiteis and Kuki-Zo tribes.
The UCF said in a statement: “Uttar Pradesh leading with 211 incidents followed by Chhattisgarh with 118 and Haryana with 39 incidents…. Attacks against Christians do not stop with mob violence. There are 520 Christians who have been arrested, accused of false forced conversions without any proven evidence.”
Last week, a UCF delegation met Iqbal Singh Lalpura, chairman of the National Commission for Minorities. They said that sending a team to “tour some of the areas where such communal issues are regularly occurring” was discussed.
In May, for the fourth consecutive year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) asked its government to designate India as a "Country of Particular Concern" for "engaging in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom".