India Hate Lab (IHL)

Newslaundry: More hate, more votes? Maharashtra’s voters on how they’re impacted by hate speech

There’s a larger pattern of hate speech in Maharashtra, which recorded 118 instances of hate speech in 2023, according to data from India Hate Lab. This was higher than any other state in India, with Uttar Pradesh in second place with 104 instances. In other words, Maharashtra recorded a hate speech once every three days in 2023. Ten have been recorded so far this year. In January, India Hate Lab’s website was blocked in India.

According to India Hate Lab, 420 (63 percent) of the 668 hate speech events in 2023 included references to conspiracy theories, such as love jihad. 239 of the recorded hate speech events featured explicit calls of violence against Muslims, including calls to arms.

In Maharashtra, most of the speeches documented were made at rallies organised by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, an umbrella group of right-wing factions including the Bajrang Dal, Vishva Hindu Parishad, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The group began organising public meetings, predominantly in Maharashtra, about four months after the Shinde government came to power in June 2022.

Analysis by Newslaundry indicates that ever since the Samaj was set up in November 2022, it held rallies in at least 28 out of Maharashtra’s 36 districts.

But does this matter during a general election? What do local residents think?

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