Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Communalism Hate Speech

The changing anatomy of hate speech and communal violence

The executive, the Government, instantly decides who the culprits are and delivers immediate judgment where the houses of minority community are bulldozed

Ram Puniyani 20 Apr 2022

Bulldozed
Image Courtesy:countercurrents.org

Recently this year (Mid April 2022) the incidents on Ram Navami and then on Hanuman Jayanti were very disturbing to say the least. On Ram Navami, the major incidents which shook us took place in Gujarat in Khambata and Himmat Nagar, in Madhya Pradesh in Khargone, in Karnatka in Gulbarga, Raichur and Kolar, in Uttar Pradesh in Sitapur and in Goa in Islampura. These are few among the nationwide spread of the incidents.

The Khargone incidence stands out for the shocking step taken by the state government in demolishing nearly 51 structures (shops and residences) of minority community. The charge leveled was that the stones were thrown from these places; so as per the Home Minster, these structures had to be turned into stones. Meanwhile, a new method to break the economic backbone of Muslim community has been propped up as Muslim traders will not be permitted near Hindu temples and in Hindu melas (fairs).

Just a couple of days later, Hanuman Jayanti was celebrated. The processions were playing loud music; the participants were dancing and shouting anti-Muslim slogans, and were armed with weapons. The processions had a common destination, the nearby mosques particularly in Muslim majority areas. Provocative slogans, stone throwing was followed by violence. The incident in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri stands out. Here, after the stone pelting, 14 Muslims were arrested in the first round.

Loud hysteria is spreading and there is rage on the streets. This is what prompted eminent historian Ram Guha to state that we are living in the worst era of Independent India. This is what prompted leaders of 13 opposition parties, including Congress, NCP, TMC, DMK and many others to issue a statement saying, “We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress. Food, festivals and language are being deliberately used by ruling establishment, to polarize our society. We are extremely concerned with the growing incidents of hate in the country by the people who appear to have official patronage and against whom no meaningful and strong action is taken.” 

The hate is being spewed by the religious processions, the Hate speech of most derogatory nature is being made by the saffron clads in the Dharam Sansads (YatiNarsinghanand, Bajrang Muni and company) and by those eager to impose Hindu Nation on the secular democratic India. In response to the letter by 13 parties, Sambit Patra, BJP national spokesperson blamed the widening circle of violence to politics of appeasement of Congress party. Incidentally it was the same appeasement argument used by Godse while killing Gandhi.

And JP Nadda the BJP chief said that Congress is conspiring to divide society. We know the source of divisiveness is hate. This is coming from Whatsapp University and spread effectively through the mechanisms outlined in the book, Iam a Troll (Swati Chaturvedi) and many other such methods which have been put in place.

Even pre-Independence when Muslim communalism was also the parallel and opposite of Hindu communalism, the processions in front of mosques were one of the techniques used to instigate violence. Now the celebrations of Hindu festivals and processions have been enhanced to incorporate DJs, loud music and anti-Muslim slogans. These processions have the destination of mosques, where they dance to the loud music and hurl abuses, inciting the elements in the minority community. What follows is the process of stone throwing, from which ever quarter they come.

The process of justice has been short changed. The executive, the Government, instantly decides whothe culprits are and delivers immediate judgment where the houses of minority community are bulldozed. In Delhi (2020) one had seen the likes of Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Varma delivering Hate speeches. After the violence those who were talking peace, like Umar Khalid were arrested and the likes of Anurag Thakur got promotions. In the latest violence in Jahangirpuri again those who landed up there and incited the atmosphere are safe in their homes, while those who were intimidated through aggressive gestures and slogans have been arrested.

The statement of the 13 leaders of opposition parties is reassuring that there are still sane elements that can distinguish grain from the chaff and stand up to truth. But is this adequate? Can these parties not go further and plan a campaign against the virus of hate? These parties do aim for electoral power, that’s okay, but keeping the principles of Fraternity alive is their constitutional duty. The worthies trying to put the blame away from the real culprits are trying to march towards their political agenda through their own activities and through the activities of their associate organisations.

There is a long history of religious processions being used to incite hate.Lot of research has also gone into unraveling the truth behind communal incidents. Dr. Vibhuti Narayan Rai, the ex- DIG of UP Police in his doctoral research tells us that the minority community is so cornered before the violence that many a times, it is compelled to throw the first stone. He also shows that there are deep anti-Muslim biases in the police force and so mostly it is minorities who are put under preventive detention or are arrested more in number after the incident. Similarly Yale University research tells us that after the incidents of violence, the BJP gains the most electorally.

Is there any hope for the future? Can the elders and saner elements in the minority community restrain their young one’s not to get provoked? Can the Opposition parties step in to form peace committees in most of the areas to see that religious processions are not permitted to visit mosques as a mandatory ritual? Even in current dark times one can see the bright rays. Ancient Hindu temple in Banaskanthainvited Muslims for iftar. In places in UP Muslims showered flowers on Hanuman Jayanti processions. One can only hope these trends in communities are encouraged and promoted and divisive loudmouths are punished as per the law for spreading hate or for instigating violence.

What has been seen in the recent times is that the hate spreaders are well backed up and protected by the state, giving encouragement to such elements to carry on with their negative actions in the society. It is time civil society and political organizations give priority to curtail the Hate speech, provocative slogans and processions with potential of provoking violence.

* Views expressed are the author's own. Dr. Puniyani is a human rights defender and a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay). 

Other pieces by Dr. Puniyani:

Hijab ban: Multiple Dimensions
Promoting Amity in the Times of Hate
Christian Minorities and Indian Democracy!
Koran, Madrassas and Terrorism
Freedom of Religion and Christian minorities in India

The changing anatomy of hate speech and communal violence

The executive, the Government, instantly decides who the culprits are and delivers immediate judgment where the houses of minority community are bulldozed

Bulldozed
Image Courtesy:countercurrents.org

Recently this year (Mid April 2022) the incidents on Ram Navami and then on Hanuman Jayanti were very disturbing to say the least. On Ram Navami, the major incidents which shook us took place in Gujarat in Khambata and Himmat Nagar, in Madhya Pradesh in Khargone, in Karnatka in Gulbarga, Raichur and Kolar, in Uttar Pradesh in Sitapur and in Goa in Islampura. These are few among the nationwide spread of the incidents.

The Khargone incidence stands out for the shocking step taken by the state government in demolishing nearly 51 structures (shops and residences) of minority community. The charge leveled was that the stones were thrown from these places; so as per the Home Minster, these structures had to be turned into stones. Meanwhile, a new method to break the economic backbone of Muslim community has been propped up as Muslim traders will not be permitted near Hindu temples and in Hindu melas (fairs).

Just a couple of days later, Hanuman Jayanti was celebrated. The processions were playing loud music; the participants were dancing and shouting anti-Muslim slogans, and were armed with weapons. The processions had a common destination, the nearby mosques particularly in Muslim majority areas. Provocative slogans, stone throwing was followed by violence. The incident in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri stands out. Here, after the stone pelting, 14 Muslims were arrested in the first round.

Loud hysteria is spreading and there is rage on the streets. This is what prompted eminent historian Ram Guha to state that we are living in the worst era of Independent India. This is what prompted leaders of 13 opposition parties, including Congress, NCP, TMC, DMK and many others to issue a statement saying, “We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress. Food, festivals and language are being deliberately used by ruling establishment, to polarize our society. We are extremely concerned with the growing incidents of hate in the country by the people who appear to have official patronage and against whom no meaningful and strong action is taken.” 

The hate is being spewed by the religious processions, the Hate speech of most derogatory nature is being made by the saffron clads in the Dharam Sansads (YatiNarsinghanand, Bajrang Muni and company) and by those eager to impose Hindu Nation on the secular democratic India. In response to the letter by 13 parties, Sambit Patra, BJP national spokesperson blamed the widening circle of violence to politics of appeasement of Congress party. Incidentally it was the same appeasement argument used by Godse while killing Gandhi.

And JP Nadda the BJP chief said that Congress is conspiring to divide society. We know the source of divisiveness is hate. This is coming from Whatsapp University and spread effectively through the mechanisms outlined in the book, Iam a Troll (Swati Chaturvedi) and many other such methods which have been put in place.

Even pre-Independence when Muslim communalism was also the parallel and opposite of Hindu communalism, the processions in front of mosques were one of the techniques used to instigate violence. Now the celebrations of Hindu festivals and processions have been enhanced to incorporate DJs, loud music and anti-Muslim slogans. These processions have the destination of mosques, where they dance to the loud music and hurl abuses, inciting the elements in the minority community. What follows is the process of stone throwing, from which ever quarter they come.

The process of justice has been short changed. The executive, the Government, instantly decides whothe culprits are and delivers immediate judgment where the houses of minority community are bulldozed. In Delhi (2020) one had seen the likes of Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Varma delivering Hate speeches. After the violence those who were talking peace, like Umar Khalid were arrested and the likes of Anurag Thakur got promotions. In the latest violence in Jahangirpuri again those who landed up there and incited the atmosphere are safe in their homes, while those who were intimidated through aggressive gestures and slogans have been arrested.

The statement of the 13 leaders of opposition parties is reassuring that there are still sane elements that can distinguish grain from the chaff and stand up to truth. But is this adequate? Can these parties not go further and plan a campaign against the virus of hate? These parties do aim for electoral power, that’s okay, but keeping the principles of Fraternity alive is their constitutional duty. The worthies trying to put the blame away from the real culprits are trying to march towards their political agenda through their own activities and through the activities of their associate organisations.

There is a long history of religious processions being used to incite hate.Lot of research has also gone into unraveling the truth behind communal incidents. Dr. Vibhuti Narayan Rai, the ex- DIG of UP Police in his doctoral research tells us that the minority community is so cornered before the violence that many a times, it is compelled to throw the first stone. He also shows that there are deep anti-Muslim biases in the police force and so mostly it is minorities who are put under preventive detention or are arrested more in number after the incident. Similarly Yale University research tells us that after the incidents of violence, the BJP gains the most electorally.

Is there any hope for the future? Can the elders and saner elements in the minority community restrain their young one’s not to get provoked? Can the Opposition parties step in to form peace committees in most of the areas to see that religious processions are not permitted to visit mosques as a mandatory ritual? Even in current dark times one can see the bright rays. Ancient Hindu temple in Banaskanthainvited Muslims for iftar. In places in UP Muslims showered flowers on Hanuman Jayanti processions. One can only hope these trends in communities are encouraged and promoted and divisive loudmouths are punished as per the law for spreading hate or for instigating violence.

What has been seen in the recent times is that the hate spreaders are well backed up and protected by the state, giving encouragement to such elements to carry on with their negative actions in the society. It is time civil society and political organizations give priority to curtail the Hate speech, provocative slogans and processions with potential of provoking violence.

* Views expressed are the author's own. Dr. Puniyani is a human rights defender and a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay). 

Other pieces by Dr. Puniyani:

Hijab ban: Multiple Dimensions
Promoting Amity in the Times of Hate
Christian Minorities and Indian Democracy!
Koran, Madrassas and Terrorism
Freedom of Religion and Christian minorities in India

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Hate, Arms, Shrine Takeovers: Is Hindutva extremism at its peak in Karnataka?

WATCH: In this SabrangIndia Exclusive show called 'Column 9', journalist & activist Shivasundar talks about the journey of Hindutva Extremism, from fringe groups to the center, in Karnataka, which is arguably empowered and emboldened by the legislative and judiciary, simultaneously.

Communalism

Hate, Arms, Shrine Takeovers: Is Hindutva extremism at its peak in Karnataka?

WATCH: In this SabrangIndia Exclusive show called 'Column 9', journalist & activist Shivasundar talks about the journey of Hindutva Extremism, from fringe groups to the center, in Karnataka, which is arguably empowered and emboldened by the legislative and judiciary, simultaneously.

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives