The Heartland Hatewatch

What is The Wire's Heartland HateWatch?

In the run up to the 2022 Assembly Elections, The Wire has been monitoring religiously motivated hate speech and hate crimes in the northern ‘Hindi belt’.

What states are we monitoring?

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttarakhand.

Why these states?

We wanted to see how the elections in the north interacted with the quantity of hate crimes and hate speech being made. As the election calendar advances, we will be monitoring more states.

What time period is this for?

From October 1, 2021, until now.

How do we prove an incident happened?

We are only including those instances of hate speech or hate crime which have been reported in credible news media. This means that this list is not an exhaustive list, as only the hate crimes which reach the news get included. In terms of hate speech, the quantity of hate speech made by social media channels with wide reach was too large to be comprehensively included. As such, we have included those individuals who are affiliated to a political party by at least one degree of separation.

What qualifies as Hate Speech?

Any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language, including dog-whistling, with reference to a person or a group on the basis of their religious identity, intended to reach a mass audience.

What are Hate Crimes?

Hate Crimes are defined as physical acts of aggression against the property and person of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of religion.

What does this include?

Who are we watching?

We’re watching influential members of the political class as well as influencers with large followings affiliated with political entities or mainstream media channels, for instances of religiously motivated hate speech performed for propaganda purposes.

How can we make this better?

If there is a report on a hate crime or hate speech which you think we’ve missed, email us with the subject line ‘The Wire HateWatch’ at naomi@thewire.in.

We understand that this kind of monitoring comes with intrinsic flaws – for instance, if there are 'viral' hate crimes that cannot be verified, they are not included. We have also not included the vast quantity of hate crimes which we are seeing in the south of India, specifically in Karnataka.

That said, we have a plan to address this.

What do we want to do next?

We want to expand The Wire’s HateWatch Project to include more states, eventually creating a body of work tracking this on a national level by 2024. This is where we need your help. We need to create a team of on ground reporters and fact-checkers to be able to take this to the next level.

If you want to be part of this project, you can support our work here: https://support.thewire.in/

Why are we doing this?

Justice Madan B. Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court has noted that India has an obligation to act against calls for genocide. Internationally, multiple reputed organisations such as Genocide Watch and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have sounded the alarm for India being on the brink of genocide. One of the first steps in this process is the dehumanization of people through hate speech, and an increase in hate crimes. We believe that documentation will play a critical role in holding accountable those actors who contribute to fomenting hate.