“Combatting Hate Speech in Election-Bound India: The Collective Efforts of a Serious Job” | Latest News on India’s 2024 Elections

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Bengaluru, India – During the inauguration of a grand Hindu temple by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Uttar Pradesh, a crowd of around 100,000 devotees gathered at a mausoleum nearly 2,000km away in Mulabagilu, Karnataka. The Urs (death anniversary) of the 12th-century Sufi saint Hazrat Baba Haider Ali was being observed there, drawing devotees from different communities.

In response to a morphed photo of the mausoleum circulating on social media, Shaikh Jaffer Sadiq and his friends intervened to defuse tensions. They advised the mausoleum’s management to file a police complaint against the individual responsible. The accused was warned by the police and the post was deleted. This incident reminded Sadiq of a time when Hindus and Muslims lived harmoniously in Mulabagilu, before rising tensions in recent years.

Wanting to combat hate speech and polarization, Sadiq attended a Hate Speech Beda workshop in Bengaluru in February. Hate Speech Beda is a collective formed by lawyers, academics, and activists to address incidents of hate speech, engage with authorities, and conduct advocacy and workshops to combat hate speech. The workshop focused on identifying, reporting, and fighting hate speech, highlighting its impact on marginalized communities.

Hate Speech Beda has faced challenges in convincing authorities to take action against hate speech incidents. Despite this, they have filed complaints against offenders, including cases involving religious tensions and media vilification campaigns. The collective works tirelessly to combat hate speech and promote harmony in a climate of escalating religious polarization.

While the BJP government in Karnataka has faced criticism for its handling of religious tensions, members of the party emphasize their commitment to unity and development for all. However, reports of hate speech and religious conflict continue to surface, underscoring the importance of initiatives like Hate Speech Beda in combating divisive rhetoric and promoting inclusivity. The collective members remain determined in their efforts to fight hate speech and create a more harmonious society.

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