Irfan Engineer and Neha Dabhade[1]

The year 2023 witnessed a decrease in the number of communal riots but a sharp increase in hate speeches. According to monitoring of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS), the number of communal riots reported in 5 newspapers stood at 32 compared to 41 communal riots reported in 2022, a dip of almost 24 %. However, the number of incidents of mob lynching increased as per the monitoring from 15 in 2022 to 21 in 2023. The salient highlights of communal violence in 2023 is the spate in the hate speeches reflecting apparent impunity enjoyed by those targeting the followers of what the Hindu nationalists describe as “foreign” religions. The ‘Sakal Hindu Samaj’, an umbrella body of right-wing organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Sanatan Sanstha among others, was one such campaign in Maharashtra where a series of hate speeches exhorting genocide against Muslims, social and economic boycott against Muslims and accusing them of ‘land jihad’ and ‘love jihad’ without any authentic data or facts on ground. Moreover, communal violence in India in 2023 saw religious festivals, especially Ram Navami being weaponized to provoke communal riots and subsequently enabling the state to use it as a pretext to demolish properties belonging mostly to the members of Muslim community. Out of 32 communal riots, 9 communal riots were triggered off during Ram Navami processions that were organised by Hindu nationalists. The 32 communal riots claimed 15[2] (4 Hindus and 5 Muslims) lives and injured 225. At the same time, the incidents of mob lynching claimed 16 lives – all Muslims.

Centre for Study of Society and Secularism monitors communal violence annually and its findings are based on reports that appear in the Mumbai edition of five newspapers – The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Times of India, Sahafat and Inquilab. CSSS has also carried out fact finding in some of these incidents of communal riots reported in the media. Out of the 32 incidents of communal riots, 11 communal riots took place in Maharashtra. This high number of communal riots in Maharashtra coincides with the sustained “Sakal Hindu Samaj” rallies, more than 50 in the state. Other major riot took place in Nuh in Haryana which spread to the districts of Sohna, Palwal and Gurugram.

The spate in hate speeches targeting what the Hindu nationalists consider “foreign” or non-Indic religions and resorting to even abusive slogans is normalising their social hegemony and political domination, and consequently marginalising the Muslim and Christian community socially as well as politically. The religious minorities are being increasingly relegated to second-class citizens living subjugated lives, contrary to the slogan coined by the PM Narendra Modi – sabka saath, sabka vikas. The impunity enjoyed by the Hindu nationalists despite committing criminal offences related to hate speech and violence gives a message to the Muslims and Christians that they have little, or even no remedy against the violations by the Hindu right wing, and they will have to suffer their hegemony and social domination. There is no effective redressal or criminal justice system which is easily accessible to them and thus they are at the will and mercy of the Hindu majority. The Muslim and Christian community is beaten into submission by deliberately humiliating them weaponizing some Hindu religious processions. The state then targets the Muslim and Christian community by indiscriminately, arbitrarily and disproportionately arresting them and demolishing their properties. This is invisiblizing Muslim and Christian identities, culture and heritage from social space. The hate speech and violence are privatizing their religious practices within confines of private spaces. At times their religious practices are not secure even within private space as prayer meetings and churches are under attack. Character of religious spaces of Muslims are sought to be changed and reclaimed as Hindu religious places.

The hate speeches along with the communal riots has led to deepening of communal fault lines and religious polarization of social space and identities. The normalization of communal violence and debilitating communal narratives are taking deep roots in the society. This process is abundantly and visibly aided by the state with its lack of action against those who spread this hatred and narrative. An indication of this deep-rooted violence are the poignant hate crimes targeting Muslims. Some of the disturbing examples in 2023 was the shooting on the train by colonel and a school teacher in Muzzaffarnagar asking her students to slap a nine-year-old Muslim student. Cumulatively, this violence has resulted into a feeling of insecurity amongst the minorities.

This report looks at three forms of communal violence – physical, symbolic and structural. Physical form of communal violence encompasses communal riots, mob lynching and hate crimes. Communal riots is defined as “when a mob (consisting of at least 5 persons) predominantly belonging to a religious community gathers with the objective of inflicting collective punishment by way of causing physical injuries, death, sexual assault and/or causing damage to the properties of any or all members of another religious community only because they are perceived to belong to the targeted community, whether or not the targeted individuals are guilty of any wrong doing and often the individuals targeted are not responsible for any wrong doing to the knowledge of the aggressive mob, and in fact inflicts such collective punishments as they are capable of to the members of targeted religious community.”

Salient features of Communal riots in 2023:

Low intensity:

As mentioned above, the year 2023 witnessed 32 communal riots. Out of these Nuh was a major communal riot, in terms of the scale of violence, the property damaged and number of deaths. The communal riot in Nuh saw seven deaths and went on for two days in almost four districts – Nuh, Palwal, Sohna and Gurugram. The riots in Manipur were more of ethnic nature, with some communal overtones. It involved attacks on places of worship 393 Meitei shrines and temples were destroyed allegedly by Kuki militants and about 249 churches belonging to Kuki and Meitei Christians have been destroyed in Manipur. The Kukis in the Hill districts of Manipur are all Christians while most of the Meiteis in the valley is Hindus. The Meitei extremist organizations – Arambai Tengol and Meitei Leepun – mobilized the Hindu Meiteis. Both the organisations are perceived to receive patronage from the BJP leadership in the state. Apart from these two major communal riots, the rest of the communal riots were mostly sub radar and low intensity. Low intensity or sub radar riots imply restricted geographical expanse of area, duration of violence and scale or low number of casualties. However, it is worth noting that even in low intensity riots, there is substantial destruction of property belonging to Muslims.

Nature of communal riots has changed:

The nature of communal riots in 2023 continued to follow the pattern that emerged since 2014. Unlike the previous years when elaborate planning of targets and organisation of men, material and equipment to mount fatal physical attacks and inflict massive damage to property, was pre-requisite of executing a sustained major riot. This needed an institutionalized riot system. Triggering off a communal riot for Hindu nationalists since 2014 proved relatively easy – sometimes hiding behind religious processions and shouting abusive anti-minority slogans or even a purely private dispute between two or more individuals belonging to different community was all that was needed to trigger off a riot. The state apparatus’s one-sided action targeting the minority community, their life and property, and indiscriminate arrests of large number of minority community members would fulfil the objectives of the rioters from the majority community, appearing to take over the role of perpetrators. While the Hindu nationalists who triggered off the riots would nearly enjoy impunity. Permits for processions, often predictable in their potential for volatility due to the presence of arms and DJ music, are granted, as evidenced in recent years.

Theatre of Violence:

Figure 1

Out of the 32 communal riots in 2023, 11 communal riots took place in the state of Maharashtra- amounting of 1/3 of all the communal riots. Gujarat, again in western India like Maharashtra, witnessed five communal riots. The western zone of India comprising of Maharashtra and Gujarat made for 16 communal riots out of the total 32- comprising half or 50% of the total number of cases. The Eastern India too has been on a boil as is indicated by the number of communal riots, seven in total – three in West Bengal, two in Bihar, one in Odisha and one in Jharkhand. North India which historically has been the hotbed of communal riots, witnessed six communal riots – two in Haryana, two in Uttar Pradesh, one in Rajasthan, one in Himachal Pradesh. The Southern region, central region and North East has witnessed one communal riot each. Karnataka in south India witnessed one communal riot in Shivmogga. Chhattisgarh in central India witnessed a communal riot in Biranpur village of Bemetara.

Table 1

Communal Riots in India in 2023: Killed & Injured

Hindu: killed Muslim: killed Other Religion: killed Not Identified: killed   Police:


  Total:       killed
   4      5      0         3           3     15
Hindu: Injured Muslim: Injured Other Religion: Injured Police:


   Not             Identified: Injured   Total:       Injured
    1      2    0        64         158    225


Lastly, although we consider ongoing communal violence in Manipur as one incident, it is to be noted that the violence in Manipur is ongoing for more than eight months and has displaced more than 70,000 persons.

All the Kukis are now living in the hills. The valley of Imphal has    been “cleansed” off the Kukis. Similarly, the hills have been “cleansed” off the Meiteis. The displacement of Kukis has spilled out into other neighbouring state of Mizoram. The violence in Manipur is unprecedented and has also had an adverse impact on the inter-community relations in Manipur from the point of view of this report which deals with communal violence.

It is no coincidence that Maharashtra had such high number of communal riots. Maharashtra in the year witnessed over fifty processions (Taken place between November 2022 to March 2023) organized by “Sakal Hindu Samaj”- a group of Hindu right-wing groups. The rallies were in news for the vicious hate speeches delivered in the rallies by the leaders like T. Raja and Kajol Hindustani. The rallies with the rhetoric that Muslims are committing ‘land jihad’ and ‘love jihad’ called for violence against Muslims as well as socio-economic boycott. These rallies and the overall atmosphere of impunity and hatred they created were conducive for communal violence in Maharashtra, some of the hate speeches leading directly to the communal violence. The constant churning of communal hatred led to intense polarization of the society reflecting in the substantial number of incidents of mob lynching.

Ruling Regimes:

Figure 2

It is interesting to note that out of the total 32 communal riots, 22 communal riots have taken place in states where BJP is ruling either by itself or part of the ruling alliances. Three communal riots took place in West Bengal ruled by the Trinamool Congress and three others took place in states ruled by Indian National Congress. This is an adverse observation which points towards either the inability of the BJP administration in preventing communal riots or its deliberate patronage in promoting communal tensions and riots.


Figure 3

Religious Processions:

The trend in communal riots from the previous years continued in 2023 too where religious processions were used as a pretext for instigating communal riots. In total, out of 32 communal riots, 15 were related to a religious procession. Ram Navami in particular like previous years was used by Hindu right wing to stir communal riots. There were nine communal riots related to Ram Navami alone out of the total 32 communal riots. One riot took place on Hanuman Jayanti. Another took place during a “dindi” procession in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, one during a Kunwar yatra in Uttar Pradesh and another one during Eid Milan procession in Karnataka. Perhaps, the biggest communal riot took place in Nuh in Haryana over the Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra.

Out of the nine communal riots that took place on Ram Navami, two took place in Bihar- one in Sasaram and another in Bihar Sharif. In Nalanda district, in the town of Bihar Sharif, Ram Navami procession was organized by Bajrang Dal on 31st March. Announcements were made urging Hindus not to open their shops on that day. Approximately 50,000 persons participated in the procession though the permission granted was for 5000 only. Music was played on DJ system during the procession.  The participants were brandishing of weapons, such as swords, huge sound amplifiers on big trucks were playing communally charged and provocative songs and slogans. The procession started at around 2 p.m from Shram Kalyan Maidan and had to end at Baba Maniram Akhada temple, passing through Hospital Mod, Bharao Par, Kanta Par, Gagan Diwan, Soghra College Mod — a stretch of around 4.5 km along the Main Road (also called Ranchi Road). When the procession reached the volatile area of Gagan Diwan, the slogans of the participants became provocative and there was an altercation between the participants and two Muslim men. Two Muslim men were beaten up. This triggered the riot, which saw arson of Muslim owned properties and burning of the iconic Azizia Madrassa. One 16-year-old youth, Gulshan Kumar got injured and succumbed to his injuries. Sasaram in Rohtas district also saw communal clashes on March 31 during a Ram Navami procession and the government had to shut down internet services and impose Section 144 in the city as a precautionary measure. The police arrested former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA, Jawahar Prasad for his involvement in the communal riot.

Two communal riots took place in Maharashtra- one in Sambhajinagar and other in Mumbai. In Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, in the early morning of 30th March, on the day of Ram Navami, in the locality of Kiradpura, around six motorcycle borne youth from Azad nagar chowk came to Ram temple situated in Kiradpura, shouting slogans including “Jai Shri Ram”. There was an altercation between these youth and a group of youth from the Muslim community. These altercations took a violent turn and a mob was mobilized which pelted stones on the police and Ram Temple. Approximately 13 police vans were burnt by the mob. The mob dispersed after the police used tear gas and fired bullets. One Moniruddin Shaikh (45) was hit by one of the bullets and died. In the other communal riot in Maharashtra on Ram Navami, in the Malwani area of Mumbai, a fight broke out when some people at a mosque asked a procession passing by to stop playing music on the night of 30th March, which later escalated with slippers and water bottles being thrown by both sides. However, major violence was averted by the police in this incident.

In a separate incident, a communal riot erupted in Paldhi, located in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, approximately 400 km north of Mumbai, on April 4th. The unrest transpired after a religious procession, accompanied by DJ music, was organized in proximity to a mosque. The incident unfolded as a ‘dindi’, a religious procession traveling from Jalgaon to Vani in Nashik district, passed through Paldhi village. A dispute over the music played in front of the mosque escalated into a physical altercation, eventually leading to stone-pelting. Regrettably, the incident resulted in the looting of houses belonging to Muslims and substantial damage to their properties (Shaikh, 2023).

Three communal riots took place in West Bengal – one in Howrah, one in Hoogly and one in Uttar Dinajpur. In West Bengal, on 30th March, a Ram Navami procession was organized and taken out by VHP and Anjani Putra Sena in Howrah District of West Bengal which passed through the main GT road. The procession had huge DJ music system playing songs and the participants of the procession were carrying swords and knives. This procession was attacked near Shibpur police station when bottles and stones were hurled at the procession. Communal violence took place in Rishra locality of Hoogly District on 2nd April, 2023 when Ram Navami procession was organized by different organizations. The procession started at 3pm on 2nd April on the route that is followed for almost ten years. The starting point of procession was Prabhash Nagar and it passed through Jama Masjid and GT road. Around 5.40pm, when the procession came near Jama Masjid, it was time of Azaan. Some of the residents and devotees in the Mosque asked the procession to stop the DJ music for two minutes for the call of Azaan. The altercation started due to this request. The members from the procession attacked the mosque and adjoining shop. There was retaliation by the Muslim residents too. One person was killed while several others were injured after a clash erupted between two communities in West Bengal’s Dalkhola city during a Ram Navami procession.

Two communal riots took place in Gujarat – one in Una and another one in Vadodara on Ram Navami. Communal riot was provoked by the hate speech delivered by Kajal Shingala alias Kajal Hindustani, at a public meeting after the Ram Navami procession was organized on 2nd April, a clash broke out between two groups near the fish market in Kumbharwada area of Una. Two groups resorted to stone pelting at each other. The police were outnumbered following which more force was called in, and eventually the crowd dispersed. According to the police, 200 people, who had gathered after the meeting held by Hindustani, were involved in the clash.

In Vadodara, on 30th March, Ram Navami, “Shobha yatra” was organized by VHP and Bajrang Dal. The residents and activists allege that this yatra deviated from its pre-decided route and entered the Muslim majority area of Panjrigar Mohalla. The procession came near the Panjrigar dargah around 1.30 p.m. Since it was namaz time, very few Muslim youth were on the road. The participants from the procession shouted anti-Muslim slogans. The procession took a violent turn when the participants attacked a Muslim youth standing on the road and beat him up after some altercation took place with the members of the procession and they started pelting stones on the houses of the Muslims. The women in the houses came out and objected to this stone pelting. Some of the participants subsequently started kicking the gates of the Hazrat Kalu Shahid– Balu Shahid Dargah and throwing stones inside. In the aftermath of the communal riot, the administration demolished properties of the Muslims.

In another incident in Gujarat, on the 15th of September, in Thasra village, Kheda district, a communal clash occurred during a procession organized by devotees of Lord Shiva to mark the conclusion of the holy Shravan month. The incident left three policemen and six others injured. In response, three FIRs were filed, one of them by the Kheda district police, leading to the arrest of 11 individuals, including an independent councillor from Thasra Municipality. The violence unfolded as the procession passed through the Teen Batti neighborhood in the Syedwada area of Thasra, where a madrassa and mosque are situated. Tensions escalated when members of the Hindu and Muslim communities engaged in heated arguments, eventually turning violent. Subsequently, individuals from both communities resorted to pelting stones at each other, resulting in injuries and the subsequent legal actions.

 Uttar Pradesh:

A procession of kanwariyas was passing through Shahnoori mosque in Joginavada locality of Bareilly when stone pelting ensued between the locals and the participants of the procession on 23rd July. When the procession moved ahead around 40-50 metres from the mosque, a group of people started pelting stones at kanwariyas. After the footage was examined, it was seen that stones were hurled from both sides. A FIR was filed in this case (Indian Express, 2023).


Communal riots flared up in Shivamogga during Eid Milad procession, leading to a clash where stones were hurled at the procession and the police on 1st October. The discord began earlier in the day when some Muslim youths erected a large portrait of the former ruler of the erstwhile Mysuru state, Tipu Sultan, at Ragigudda-Shanti Nagar on the city’s outskirts. This action was met with objection from right-wing activists who claimed that the portrait depicted Tipu Sultan killing a warrior. As the Eid procession reached the Ragigudda area around 8 pm, a group of miscreants, initiated stone-throwing at the procession. In retaliation, some youths began pelting stones at nearby houses. The police intervened by using force to disperse the crowd. The event witnessed the participation of over 20,000 people (Indian Express , 2023).


Perhaps the biggest communal riot of 2023 was the communal riot in Nuh on 31st July. The trigger for the communal riot was the Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra organized by the VHP and Bajrang Dal which is organized by the same organization for the last three years. The yatra was preceded by hate speeches by Hindu right-wing leaders – Monu Manesar and Bittu Bajrangi. An altercation between some of the participants of the yatra and a group of Muslims who attacked a car believing it carried Monu Manesar triggered the riot. Some participants in the yatra attacked the properties of the Muslims. The Shiv Nalhar temple in Nuh was fired at and vehicles burnt down. After the violence in Nuh, the violence spread to Sohna, Palwal and Gurugram where mostly the Muslims were targeted. Their properties were torched. The narrative promoted by the administration was that the Muslims targeted the procession and the Shiv temple. As a reaction, Muslim properties were demolished by the administration. The administration claimed that these properties were illegal as a result of encroachment. The communal riot claimed seven lives. Most of the arrests were of Muslims.

Some commonalities are observed in the pattern of violence related to all these incidents of communal riot which is continuation from 2022. Many places didn’t have the tradition of Ram Navami Yatra and these yatras have begun in the last few years including the Braj Mandal Yatra. This narrative was especially strong in West Bengal where Ram Navami was commonly not celebrated. The places like Maharashtra and Gujarat where Ram Navami was celebrated essentially had small celebrations which were local in nature, in small numbers and religious in nature. Ironically, much against the narrative sought to be popularized, the Muslims have traditionally been welcoming the processions and offering refreshments to the members of the processions. In recent years, the Hindu right-wing organizations including the Bajrang Dal and VHP have started organizing the processions mobilizing large numbers of Hindus across caste lines. These processions are usually armed with participants carrying swords and lathis. The processions invariably violated the pre-conditions imposed upon them for giving permission, including the routes agreed upon, the number of participants and prohibition on carrying arms. The organizers of the processions like in Vadodara insist on taking the processions in Muslim majority areas and often divert the usual route of the procession to provoke and humiliate the Muslims. Once the processions enter the Muslim majority areas, the processions play loud music and participants raise derogatory slogans against the Muslims. If even one Muslim youth reacts by pelting stones, that is used as a pretext by the administration to arrest large number of Muslims arbitrarily, beat them up and demolish their properties as witnessed in Vadodara.

Social Media Posts:

The role of social media is also instrumental is fomenting communal riots. This was especially visible in the state of Maharashtra. In Akola, in May, one Karan Sahu, a leader of the radical right-wing group in Akola ‘Chhatrapati’ and who has a massive following on many social media platforms, uploaded a post on Instagram deriding the Muslim community and the prophet. The post had in no time garnered thousands of likes and his followers had soon begun sharing it on their handles too. Some media reports have attributed the incident to the recently released film “The Kerala Story”, a controversial film spreading unsubstantiated propaganda against Muslim community. Some members of the Muslim community, unhappy with the derogatory post approached the Ramdaspeth police station. At the police station, when the police allegedly refused to take note of their complaint, the crowd got agitated. This news was distorted and rumours were spread about a Muslim mob entering the Raj Rajeshwar temple. This triggered immediate response among the Hindus and an attempt was made to enter and damage the lone masjid in an adjoining lane. This led to clashes between the two communities on 15th May and the mob killed one Vilas Gaikwad, a Dalit electrician by profession who was mistaken by the mob for being a Muslim.

Following a rally organized by right-wing Hindu organizations in June, communal riot took place in Kolhapur on 7th June. The rally, initially organized to protest social media posts allegedly glorifying Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan, took a violent turn on its conclusion. Some miscreants began pelting stones at homes and businesses owned by members of the Muslim community. They also targeted Muslim-owned vehicles, leading to a need for police intervention, including the use of lathi charge to disperse the violent crowd. To restore order, the Rapid Action Force and State Reserve Police Force were deployed. Order prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons was enforced. Six individuals, including three juveniles, were detained for their involvement in circulating the controversial social media post that sparked the unrest.

In Pusesavali village in Satara district on 10th September, a mob targeted Muslim houses, shops and mosques alleging that an objectional social media post allegedly posted by a Muslim hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindu community. The residents argue that the social media account of the Muslim youth from where the post surfaced was allegedly hacked. The residents alleged the role of BJP state vice president Vikram Pawaskar and members of the Hindu right-wing organizations in inciting the violence. The region also witnessed a series of hate speeches and rallies by Hindu right-wing leaders preceding the communal riot. One Muslim youth, Nurul Hasan Shikalgar was killed in this riot. Ironically, the fact-finding committee led by CSSS found that derogatory content in the same thread was posed about Prophet Mohammad too but no action was taken about that by the police.

Rallies organized by the Hindu Right-wing organizations and Hate Speeches:

A communal clash erupted in Gujarat’s Narmada district on 29th September during the passage of a ‘Shaurya Yatra’ procession organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) through a minority community neighborhood in Selamba town. As the VHP’s Shaurya Yatra traversed a street where a mosque is situated, some people came out and objected to the loud music as the rally accompanied by DJ music. Soon, some others joined in and objected to the rally incidents of stone pelting occurred, accompanied by the setting ablaze of a nearby shop. Some troublemakers forcibly seized goods from local traders and ignited them. Prompt police intervention on the scene managed to disperse the mob within 45 minutes of the clash breaking out.

On 6th June, 2023, two persons were injured and five vehicles were vandalised in stone pelting near Sangamner town of Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra minutes after a rally organised by Sakal Hindu Samaj. Earlier that day a rally ‘Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha’ was organised by Sakal Hindu Samaj in Sangamner town. The rally concluded by around 12 pm and stone pelting was reported around 12.30pm.

Other Triggers:


Communal riots broke out following the death of Iqbal Raza, 18, who was killed in a road rage “misunderstanding” in Jaipur on 30th September. Raza was allegedly struck with a “rod- like” weapon and succumbed to his injuries. A large mob of Muslims gathered to demand justice for Raza (Times of India , 2023).


On the 8th of April around 11 am, Biranpur village in Bemetara district of Chhattisgarh witnessed the onset of communal violence when a 14-year-old boy was reportedly assaulted by another juvenile from a different community using a sharp object. The altercation escalated as adults from both communities became involved, leading to a clash marked by stone-pelting between the two sides. Police intervention was necessary to quell the violence.

In the midst of the turmoil, Bhuneshwar Sahu, who had suffered severe injuries, was discovered in a cluster inhabited by members of a different community. Despite being rushed to a hospital, he was declared brought dead. Investigations have revealed that tensions had been simmering due to 12-13 inter-faith marriages in the village over the past couple of years, exacerbating relations between the two communities (The Hindu, 2023).

The situation took a political turn on April 18th when the VHP, Bajrang Dal, and other groups issued a call for action in connection with Bhuneshwar Sahu’s incident. The opposition BJP also extended its support to the demand. Subsequently, protesters affiliated with various outfits, including some chanting ‘Bhuneshwar ke hatyaaron ko goli maro saalon ko’ (shoot Bhuneshwar’s killers), engaged in stone-pelting, even targeting police personnel. Two Muslim men were found murdered Korwaay village, five kilometres away from Biranpur.


On the 16th of June, Junagadh, Gujarat witnessed intense rioting following a notice from the municipal corporation about the impending demolition of Geban Shah Pir Dargah, which was allegedly encroaching on a public road. The situation turned violent, resulting in the death of a civilian and injuries to at least seven individuals, including five policemen. Around 10 pm, a mob of approximately 550 people gathered near the dargah, preparing to block the road. The situation escalated as the mob engaged in heavy stone-pelting. In response, law enforcement arrested 24 individuals. The mob specifically targeted three two-wheelers belonging to the police and four police vans. The violence extended to the vandalization of the Majevdi police chowki, and a state transport bus was also attacked, causing injuries to the driver and conductor. Furthermore, a two-wheeler was set ablaze during the unrest.


A group of women on their way to perform a puja were allegedly pelted with stones in Nuh on 17th November, injuring nine of them and causing law and order tension. Three minors – students of the madrassa – were apprehended and sent to a shelter home after being produced in a juvenile justice board. A case was filed against unknown persons under sections 323 (causing hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint) of the IPC and provisions of the SC and ST Act at City police station.

Himachal Pradesh:

A mob took to the streets on 15th June and shouted slogans against the administration in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba district. The mob was protesting the death of Manohar Lal, a 22-year-old Dalit man was brutally murdered allegedly by Sharif Mohammad, father of the woman he was allegedly having an affair with. His body was chopped into eight pieces and hidden beneath some stones. The killing sparked a protest in the district, with a mob burning down the house of the prime accused in the case. Police suspect it to be an honour killing case and eight people were arrested in this case, including Sharif Mohammad and his daughter.


Communal tension broke out on April 8 after a Ram Navami flag was allegedly found near a temple in the Shastri Nagar area with pieces of meat in it. The next day, members of the Hindu community held protests and demanded police action against the accused within 24 hours. A temple committee meeting was held on April 9 evening when over 100 people, most of them with their faces covered, reached the spot and started throwing stones at the committee members. Later, heavy stone-throwing took place from both sides, following which over half a dozen small shops and some vehicles were set ablaze. The Jharkhand police arrested 55 people, including a local BJP leader, Abhay Singh in connection with the clashes (The Hindu, 2023). The police reached the spot with Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel and used tear gas to disperse the miscreants.

Uttar Pradesh:

On the 9th of April, in Palra village of Hastinapur town, Meerut, a tragic incident unfolded when 22-year-old Vishu Gujjar was fatally shot by assailants on motorcycles. In the aftermath of this incident, a mob took to the streets, launching an attack on several houses, a clinic, and even vandalizing a place of worship. Fearing a potential communal escalation, a substantial police force was swiftly deployed in the area. Fortunately, no injuries were reported during these events. The outburst of arson and vandalism occurred immediately after Vishu Gujjar’s cremation. According to the police, the young man’s murder may be linked to an ongoing rivalry between two groups in the locality. The authorities acted promptly to quell the situation and prevent further tensions from escalating in the community (Rai, 2023).


A communal riot unfolded in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, centring on a platform near a temple situated in Supreme Colony at Jalgaon on 9th July. The land in question is under municipal ownership. Tensions arose when individuals from one community were engaged in repairing the platform in and around the temple. Members of another community perceived this as an attempt to extend the platform, possibly encroaching on additional land, leading them to oppose the construction. The situation escalated into a confrontation, with the two groups reportedly engaging in stone-pelting. The incident attracted a gathering of more than 250 people at the location.

In another, communal riot took place when a procession was taken out in Shevgaon town around 9 pm on 14th May to mark the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. Shevgaon, which is the taluka headquarters in Ahmednagar. The preliminary cause seems some slogans chanted at the time of the procession. When the procession came to Shivaji Chowk area of Shevgaon, some slogans were exchanged in front of a mosque, which led to arguments and the situation escalated to stone pelting. Four persons – police and home guard – have been injured in stone pelting. One person, a civilian, sustained an injury in an attack with a sharp weapon (Indian Express, 2023).

In a separate incident Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar city, a bike skidding at high speed near a group of three persons triggered clashes between groups belonging to two communities on 5th April, resulting in injuries to five persons and damages to three vehicles. Heavy police deployment was seen in six “sensitive areas” of the city and the situation had calmed down. But there was palpable tension in the air as most shops in the area remained closed or operated with shutters half-down (Kulkarni, 2023).

Mob Lynching

According to the monitoring of CSSS, 21 incidents of mob lynching took place in the year 2023 as compared to 17 in 2022. This amount to 23.5% of increase in mob lynching compared to 2022. Out of the 21 incidents of mob lynching, 12 are related to suspicion around carrying meat or cow slaughter and two are related to Muslim men interacting with non-Hindu women or appearing to be friends with them in public space. 21 incidents of mob lynching have claimed 16 lives- all Muslims.

Mob lynching can be understood as:

 “When a mob (consisting of at least 5 persons) assembles and beats up any individual or group of individual and / or causes damage to their property causing physical injury or death of the individuals so lynched because the lynch mob perceives the targeted individuals of some wrong doing that hurt their (the lynch mobs’) religious or cultural sentiment, whether or not their perception is factual and whether or not the wrong doing they are accused of constitutes any offence or illegality.”

Out of the 21 incidents of mob lynching, four incidents took place in the states of Maharashtra and three Haryana. While two were killed in Maharashtra, three were killed in Haryana. Three incidents took place each in Assam and Uttar Pradesh. Two took place each in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar. One incident of mob lynching took place each in Delhi and Jharkhand.

Figure 4

Table 2

Number of Killed, Injured and Arrested in Mob lynching in 2023

Hindu: Killed


Hindu: Injured


Hindu: Arrested


Muslim: Killed


Muslim: Injured


Muslim: Arrested


Christian: Killed


Christian: Injured


Christian: Arrested


Not Known: Killed


Not Known: Injured


Not Known: Arrested


Total  Killed: Killed


Total Injured


Total Arrested


Out of the 21 mob lynching cases, 16 took place in states where the BJP was ruling. Two took place in Bihar where the JDU and RJD coalition is ruling. One took place under AAP government, one under Congress government and one under Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

It is disturbing to note that the pretext of cow slaughter or meat and interaction or friendships or relationships between Muslim men and non-Muslim women are still used unabashedly to target Muslims since the last few years. Despite of guidelines High Courts to prevent and tackle the menace of mob lynching, the state has showed little commitment towards preventing mob lynching or bringing the culprits to justice. The BJP ruled states witnessed the greatest number of mob lynching reflecting the perception of impunity by Hindu nationalist vigilantes. The menace of mob lynching is only growing as the state action is weak or even lacking and the lynchers are applauded and feted by other Hindu nationalist leaders. The lynch mob leaders who upload the videos of their deeds on social media for fame and likes, are also known to run extortion rackets from the members of the community frequently lynched.  This is normalizing lynching and encouraging lay men to take law in their own hands.


Figure 5

The surge in mob lynching incidents, particularly those linked to allegations of cow slaughter, has troubling implications as it reinforces narratives and stereotypes portraying Muslims as involved in cow slaughter. Notably, more than 50% of the 21 reported incidents are directly connected to accusations of cow slaughter. Three persons were lynched in Assam in three separate incidents. In the first one, Darrang police arrested 14 people from Padmajhar in Assam and a neighbouring village in connection with Haque’s death. In the second case from Assam, on August 12, Hifzur Rahman was lynched by a mob in Hojai district after being accused of cattle theft. The police eight people in connection with the case. In the third case, on July 24, Saddam Hussain was lynched in Morigaon district, and after him two others were beaten up by a mob that accused them of cattle theft. Five people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

In Bihar, two persons were lynched in two incidents. One Nasim Kuraishi was brutally thrashed near Banshi Chhapra Tola at Asahani village in Saran district on the suspicion of selling beef on 7th March. He died during treatment at Ekma hospital in the night. In Bihar, on 29th June, another distressing incident unfolded when a 55-year-old disabled Muslim driver named Mohammad Zahiruddin fell victim to a mob that suspected him of carrying beef in Saran district. The tragic lynching occurred while the truck driver was transporting animal bones for medicinal purposes. The incident transpired in the Khori Pakar area of the Jalalpur police station in Saran district. The truck, en route to a bone factory in Gaura from Tajpur Basahi, encountered a breakdown on the road, compelling the driver to halt for repairs. As the driver sought assistance, some villagers approached the truck and, upon detecting the scent of meat and bones, inquired about the cargo. Suspecting the transportation of beef, they proceeded to assault him.

Haryana, especially the region of Mewat has been volatile due to the extortion network targeting Muslims under the pretext of cow slaughter. Waris Khan (22) and his friends, Nafis and Shaukeen, were fatally injured when their car collided into another vehicle as a result of a chase by cow vigilante on 28th January. The vigilante alleged that the trio had lifted a cow for slaughter and were escaping with the animal in their Santro car when they hit a van on the Tauru-Bhiwadi Road. A few hours after the accident, Khan died during treatment the other two survived with minor injuries. In another incident, Junaid, 39, and Nasir, 21 were burnt alive after being kidnapped by cow vigilantes in Bharatpur. The charred vehicle along with the bodies were recovered from Bhiwani on 16th February. Monu Manesar, a cow vigilante and Bajrang Dal functionary was booked by the Rajasthan Police in connection with the murder of Nasir and Junaid.

In Karnataka, Idrees Pasha was found dead in Sathanur village of Kanakapura taluk on 1st April, just hours after the vigilante gang intercepted and allegedly attacked the van’s three occupants. Pasha’s family alleges that Idrees was tortured by the vigilante before killing him as is evident from the wounds on his body. Sathanur police registered a murder case against vigilante leader Puneeth Kerehalli and his associates. In Maharashtra, Lukman Suleman Ansari, a resident of Bhiwandi, was allegedly transporting two cows, a bullock, and a calf from Shahpur to Padgha in Thane district on June 8 when he was attacked. A mob of around 15-20 men, some associated with the outfit Rashtriya Bajrang Dal (RBD), killed Ansari and injured his associates Pappu Atiq Paddi (36) and Aqueel Gulam Gavandi (25). In another incident in Nashik district, two men, Afan Ansari, 32, and Nasir Qureshi, 24, were allegedly transporting meat in a car to Mumbai when they were intercepted and attacked allegedly by a group of 10 to 15 cow vigilantes with steel rods and wooden sticks on 25th June. The duo, both residents of Kurla in Mumbai, received serious injuries in the attack and Mr. Ansari died during treatment. In a separate incident, on April 23 in Latur, Asif Qureshi, who was transporting cattle was apprehended by cow vigilantes. They forced him to bow before a cow, demanding an apology in the presence of two constables and three home guards. Action was initiated against the five personnel. Top of Form

In a stark indication of the shrinking spaces for interfaith relationships or friendships, the Hindu right wing has been targeting Muslim men who are seen with non-Muslim women. In an incident from Karnataka, on 1st June, three Muslim boys were hanging out with their Hindu friends at Someshwar Beach in Mangaluru when they were assaulted by a few miscreants. The group, comprising three boys and three girls, was hanging out at the beach when a few people approached them. They then started questioning the three boys, following which an argument broke out. The miscreants then beat up the three Muslim youths and then fled the spot. Police have arrested four people and taken a minor into custody in the case (Raj, 2023).

In Maharashtra, in a video that surfaced on 16th August, a group of men thrashed a Muslim youth at Mumbai’s Bandra Terminus railway station for going out with a Hindu girl. The videos of the assault circulating on social media show the men dragging the youth outside the railway station and beating him up while shouting “Jai Shri Ram” and “love jihad band karo [stop love jihad]”.

Other triggers:

Suspicion of theft:

On the 26th of September, Israr Wahid, a 26-year-old, was tragically tied to a pole and fatally beaten with sticks by a group of individuals in Nand Nagri, located in northeast Delhi. The brutal incident occurred under the suspicion of theft. Wahid’s family asserted that he was killed over the alleged act of taking a banana from a Ganesh Chaturthi pandal in Nand Nagri. Wahid, who worked as a daily wage labourer, resided in Sunder Nagri, approximately 500 meters from the crime scene. The Nand Nagri police station registered a case, leading to the apprehension of seven suspects, including a 17-year-old minor. According to the police, all the suspects admitted to assaulting Wahid under the assumption that he was a thief. The six identified suspects were Kamal (23), Manoj (19), Mohd Yunus (20), Kishan (19), Pappu (24), and Lucky (19) (Bhandari, 2023).


Wajid Ansari, 22, a painter from Pandri village of Chanho block, was beaten to death after he entered the house of Jeevan Oraon in the nearby Mahuatoli village on 7th April. The villagers after catching Ansari tied him to a pole and beat him, leading to his death. Two cases were registered in this regard. The first case was lodged based on the complaint from the victim’s family for murder, while the other side registered a complaint of theft (The Hindustan Times, 2023).


Three Muslim men were allegedly attacked in the city by different groups of youths who asked their names and objected to the clothes they were wearing. The attacks coincide with the call for a Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra in Nuh on 25th August. Nasir Hussain, a truck driver from Nuh, and his helper Ashfaq were returning home after delivering a consignment when two men in a car stopped them near Sector 65 and assaulted them for their appearance and clothes (Anand, 2023).

Madhya Pradesh:

A Muslim man was beaten up and stabbed by a group of men for some social media posts in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh in September (The Business Standard, 2023).

Uttar Pradesh:

45-year-old aluminum trader from Moradabad city, Mohd Asim Hussain, was stripped and thrashed for nearly an hour with belts in a moving train in Uttar Pradesh by his co-passengers for allegedly sexually harassing a 20-year-old woman on 12th January. A complaint is filed against him (Singh, 2023).

In a shocking incident in Uttar Pradesh, a man and his wife fell victim to a brutal attack with iron rods and sticks by their neighbours in Sitapur district on August 18th. Abbas and his wife, Kamrul Nisha, were allegedly murdered by individuals residing in the same village, Rajeypur, under the jurisdiction of Hargaon Police Station. The couple succumbed to the attack on the spot, and all the accused fled from the scene. The roots of the incident trace back to a few years prior when Abbas’s son had eloped with a girl from a neighbouring household. Subsequently, a case was registered, leading to Abbas’s son being incarcerated. Upon the recent release of Abbas’s son from jail, certain members of the girl’s family devised a plan to carry out the fatal attack on the couple (Times of India, 2023).

In Hapur district of UP, 25-year-old Muslim man, Irshad Mohammad was lynched on 24th October after his bike hit a man, who was part of a group taking part in Dussehra revelry. The incident took place on the outskirts of Luhari village. Another man, Wasim, who tried to save Mohammad, also suffered injuries. Two persons are arrested (Sharma, 2023).

Role of state:

The state’s response, involving both the police and political representatives, has been inadequate and deficient on various fronts. Despite the persisting menace of mob lynching over the past few years, the state continues to assert its lack of documentation regarding the frequency of such incidents, signalling a reluctance to acknowledge the extent of this lawlessness. This absence of official records seems to mirror the government’s unwillingness to confront and address the prevalence of mob lynching, as well as those responsible for perpetuating such acts. The state’s failure to take decisive action has empowered vigilantes to target innocent citizens without fear of repercussions.

Hate Crimes:

During the monitoring of communal violence in these recent years, CSSS has come across incidents which are communal in nature and amount to violence but can’t be classified into the definition of communal riot or mob lynching. However, these incidents of violence are vicious and significant to note here since they reflect the deep-rooted communal hatred which is motivating individuals to undertake hate crimes. Hate crime can be defined as, “any criminal offence committed by less than five individuals and is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on the victim’s religion or perceived religion. Hate crimes include amongst other things, physical assault, murder, arson, vandalism of property – public or private and of place of worship, verbal abuse or slur, incitement to hatred, creating an obstacle for the victim to observe his/her religious beliefs or threats to carry out the same.

In 2023, India witnessed a slew of such hate crimes which really mirrors the hatred and polarization the state has allowed to take roots in the minds of the individuals and the societal acceptance of the same.

Vandalism of places of worship:

Eighteen crosses and tombstones were vandalised on 8th January, in the cemetery of Mahim’s St Michael’s church in Mumbai, famous for its multi-lingual Wednesday Novena prayer that draws people of all faiths. One of the oldest churches in the city, Mahim church, as it is called, originally dates back to 1534.  The police have arrested one 22-year-old man, Dawood Ansari. The crime occurred shortly after daybreak. It is alleged that Ansari entered the cemetery by climbing its wall. He was carrying a marble-like object in his hand and vandalised the crosses with it (Indian Express , 2023).

An under-construction mosque, located near the Balkhandi Naka area in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh was vandalised by members of right-wing organisations – Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – on 15th February.  The Hindutva mob claimed that a second floor that was being constructed in the mosque was illegal. They threw away mosque belongings on the road resulting in a huge traffic jam. VHP district president Chandramohan Bedi alleged that the administration had given a nod for a renovation of the mosque (The Siasat Daily, 2023).

A group of miscreants vandalised the historical dargah and dome of a mosque Baba Bajrudin Shah in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh district late on 8th August. The incident happened at the historical dargah and mosque located in Chharra area (Khan, 2023).

Members of a rightwing group called Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyaan demolished two mazars (tomb shrines) in Rishikesh town and broadcast their act live on social media in last week of August. In the videos members of the right wing group chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ before hammering the walls of a mazar erected in the backyard of a Hindu man. They deployed construction machinery to demolish the structure, and issued threats that they would raze down more religious structures of the Muslim community. The police filed a suo moto complaint against unknown persons for promoting enmity between communities and hurting religious sentiments as the video of the demolition had gone viral on social media. Darshan Bharti, founder of Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyaan, who has claimed responsibility for the incident, has threatened that the organisation has identified 25 more mazars built inside or on lands owned by Hindus, and that his associates would demolish all of them in the days to come (Mishra, 2023).


A woman in Benguluru targeted a Muslim bus conductor in Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus for wearing a skullcap and compelled him to take it off. The one-and-a-half-minute clip shot circulated on 12th July, by the unidentified woman shows her asking the conductor whether he can wear a skullcap when in uniform as a conductor. The conductor answers that he could probably wear it. The woman insists the conductor must remove his green cap and the conductor is seen taking it off (Indian Express, 2023)

 Tripta Tyagi, a teacher from Neha Public School in Muzzafarnagar in UP, in August, was seen in a video instructing children in her classroom to hit a Muslim student, one by one, referred to his Muslim faith, and talked pejoratively about “Mohammedan children”. She did so since the child had got multiplication tables wrong. The Muslim child is seen crying in the video that went viral while different students come forward to slap him. At one point in the video, the teacher scolded a student for not hitting him hard enough. There has been pressure on the victim’s family to compromise and not take charges against the teacher forward (Rashid, 2023).

Manjula Devi, who has been working at the Urdu Government Higher Primary School located at Tipu Nagar in Shivamogga, asked students to “go to Pakistan”, while scolding them for making noise in the classroom on 30th August. The children conveyed the same to their parents. After complaints were raised, the School transferred the teacher to a school Hosamane Tanda in Hassan taluk. Besides that, the Department of School Education has ordered a departmental inquiry against her (The Hindu, 2023).

RPF constable Chetan Singh Chaudhary shot dead his team leader, assistant sub-inspector Tikaram Meena and three Muslim passengers in Jaipur Mumbai Central Superfast Express on July 31. He was seen by eyewitnesses firing from his rifle on the three Muslim passengers in coaches B5, S6 and the pantry – Kadarbhai Bhanpurwala, 62, Saifuddin Sayed, 43, and Azgar Abbas Ali Shaikh, 48. GRP filed a charge sheet in this case. (Sood, 2023).

In Karnataka, Mohammed Jahir, after finishing his work at a catering unit in Mangaluru, boarded a KSRTC bus from Mangaluru bound for Chikkamagaluru. He travelled by sitting next to a Christian girl, who is from the same area. The accused Nitesh was travelling in the same bus and assaulted Jahir along with his other accomplices. The Dakshina Kannada police have arrested four persons on the charge of assaulting a Jahir.

In another incident in Nuh on 20th August, Mohammad Monis, a resident of Meerut, was attacked by two youths near a liquor store in Sector 14 (Anand, 2023). In a deeply disturbing incident in Gangavati town of Koppal district of Gujarat, a 65-year-old Muslim man named Husensab was subjected to torture by an unidentified duo. The victim filed a First Information Report (FIR) regarding the incident on November 30. According to the FIR, on the night of November 25, after returning to Gangavati from Hosapete, Husensab was waiting for an autorickshaw after having a cup of tea. At that moment, two individuals on a motorcycle approached him, inquiring about his destination and offering him a ride. However, once on the move, the duo began physically assaulting Husensab and subjected him to verbal abuse. Despite complying with their demand to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram,’ the attackers persisted in their assault. The assailants went further, breaking a beer bottle and attempting to cut Husensab’s beard with a shard of glass. When their initial attempts failed, one of them resorted to using a matchbox to set fire to his beard. Fortunately, Husensab was rescued when a few shepherds, alerted by his cries, came to his aid. The victim subsequently lodged a complaint, initiating an investigation into the distressing incident (Upadhye, 2023).


In this part of the communal violence report of 2023, the authors dwelt into the aspect of physical violence. In the following parts, the authors will dwell into symbolic and structural violence to comprehend communal violence in India.

Part II

In the preceding segment of the 2023 communal violence monitoring report, the authors provided detailed insights into the prevalent patterns of physical violence. The conceptualization of communal violence by the authors is inclusive, encompassing physical violence, attitudinal or symbolic violence, and structural violence within a comprehensive framework. This section aims to illuminate the occurrences of attitudinal violence throughout 2023, spanning its various manifestations.

The analysis is grounded in the monitoring of reports featured in the Mumbai editions of five prominent newspapers: Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu, Sahafat, and Inquilab. To enhance reliability, these reports were cross-referenced with information from additional websites and secondary sources.

In this report, attitudinal violence or symbolic violence, refers to violent attitudes that are root of and contribute to physical violence. For example, the attitudes that members of a group or community are inferiors to others, their cultural practices or typical behaviour is not civilized or as it should be, and even harmful to the existence of others; that they ought not to be trusted or treated as equals. Such violent attitudes lead to, more often than not, discriminatory behaviour against members of such groups and even invite violent hate crimes against them. While violent attitudes may be based on religion, ethnicity, race, gender, physical abilities, sexual orientation, etc., in this report we would be primarily looking at attitudinal violence based on religion.  Typical violent attitude based on religion is that all terrorists are Muslims, they are loyal to Pakistan and belong there; that by enticing Hindu woman into relationships and marriages and convert them to Islam to increase their population; that they are rapidly increasing their population in order to become a majority in this country; that Christians are converting Hindus through coercion, fraud, and undue inducements in order to increase their population. Wide prevalence of attitudinal violence normalize specific narratives, ultimately integrating them into the fabric of “social common sense.” Such attitudinal violence leads to a range of actions:

  1. Discrimination: Discrimination in all walks of life, including in providing services and facilities, public employment, access to educational institutions, security, opportunities, resources, and services etc., by both state and non-state actors.
  2. Open Intimidation: As attitudinal violence escalates, it may manifest as open intimidation. This involves explicit threats, harassment, or coercion aimed at instilling fear and suppressing the targeted community. Open intimidation can create a hostile environment, making it difficult for individuals to freely profess their identity or participate in public life.
  3. Exclusion from Public Spaces: Attitudinal violence may extend to excluding members of a particular community from public spaces. This could involve restrictions on their participation in civic activities, denial of access to public facilities, or even the creation of segregated spaces, further marginalizing and isolating the targeted group.
  4. Forced Migration: In more severe cases, members of the targeted community may be coerced or forced to leave their homes or even the entire country. This form of attitudinal violence seeks to remove the “other” from the social fabric, reinforcing the idea that they are not welcome or considered a legitimate part of the society.
  5. Genocide: The most intense and extreme form of attitudinal violence is genocide. In genocidal acts, perpetrators seek not only to discriminate or intimidate but to eradicate the targeted group entirely. This often involves systematic violence, mass killings, and the implementation of policies aimed at the destruction of the targeted community.

The objective of symbolic violence is to invisibilise the religion, culture, and symbols of the targeted community from public space through hate speeches, normalization of derogatory narratives targeting Muslims and Christians, the favouritism towards one religion at the expense of others, evident in state spending on religious sites like temples, and the persistent endeavour to reshape history by eradicating “foreign” or “enemy” influences from historical records and public spaces.

In 2023, there was a notable surge in hate speeches, escalating from 26 instances recorded in 2022 to 33 in 2023, marking a significant 27% increase. Noteworthy, however, is that the tally of 33 hate speeches does not encompass the majority of hate speeches delivered during rallies organized by the “Sakal Hindu Samaj” in Maharashtra. These rallies, numbering at 50 between November 2022 and March 2023, contributed substantially to the overall count. If the speeches from these gatherings were to be included, the total number of hate speeches in 2023 would surpass the reported 33. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the hate speeches delivered at these rallies received broader coverage in local vernacular newspapers, which, unfortunately, were not covered by monitoring of CSSS.

Figure 1 (Part 2)


Figure 2 (Part 2)

Out of the 33 documented hate speeches in 2023, Maharashtra accounted for 10, with four each reported in Rajasthan and Karnataka. The upsurge in hate speeches in these states may be attributed to their respective political landscapes. In Maharashtra, the transition of government from the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition, consisting of Indian National Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) faction to the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) faction and BJP alliance played a significant role. Despite the change in government, the popular discourse marked by Uddhav Thackeray’s popularity across different sections of society in Maharashtra compelled the ruling dispensation to have a narrative of its own to shape public opinion. This was attempted through rallies where the Hindu right wing successfully mobilized a large section of the population and emphasized a distinct political agenda. Similarly, both Karnataka and Rajasthan underwent assembly elections in 2023. It is evident that hate speeches witnessed a notable increase in states experiencing electoral processes, where political rallies were held.Top of Form

The hate speeches, have become increasingly virulent, frequent, and notably emanate from highly placed officials and elected representatives who are duty-bound to uphold constitutional values and principles. Alarming is the fact that these elected officials actively perpetuate and endorse stereotypes that demonize Muslims and Christians, contributing to the exacerbation of symbolic violence in the nation.

Hate Speeches:

According to section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, hate speeches are those that promote ill will, hatred, and enmity. In 2023, the major form of symbolic violence was the slew of hate speeches. In the Indian law hate speeches are punished under the provisions in section 153A, 153B and 295A of Indian Penal Code. A section of elected representatives, particularly those belonging to the ruling party, indulged in hate speeches to demonize the Muslims and Christians and no action was taken against them. The lack of action by the state normalised the anti-Muslim and anti-Christian discourse, resulted in emboldening the non-state actors especially Hindu right-wing leaders and religious leaders while resorting to hate speeches targeting the communities.

As per the data collected by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) through self-sworn affidavits submitted by lawmakers prior to their last contested election, as many as 107 Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) in India have hate speech cases registered against themselves. Furthermore, over the past five years, 480 candidates with declared hate speech cases have contested elections to state assemblies, the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha. As per the report, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has the highest number of MPs with hate speech cases at 22, followed by two from the Congress and one each from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), AIMIM, AIUDF, DMK, MDMK, PMK, Shiv Sena, and the VCK, along with one Independent MP. Among the MLAs, 20 with hate speech cases are from the BJP, 13 from the Congress, six from the AAP, five each from the SP and YSRCP, four each from the DMK and RJD, three each from the AITC and SHS, two from the AIUDF, and one each from the AIMIM, CPI (M), NCP, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, TDP, Tipra Motha Party, and TRS, along with two Independent MLAs (Mishra, 2023).

Thus, as is clear that increasingly hate speeches are made by elected representatives who have sworn by the Constitution. This includes union ministers, Chief Ministers and state ministers. etc. Some are also in leadership positions in the ruling party. Emboldened by such speeches, the non- state actors including influential religious leaders and leaders of Hindu right-wing organizations are openly engaging in hate mongering. This report takes into account the hate speeches delivered by both- elected representatives and the non-state actors. Below are some of the issues on which hate speeches were delivered:

The brazenness that hate speeches are given and to understand the prevailing atmosphere of normalization of this hate, one needs to have a look at the statement given by Ramesh Bidhuri, BJP MP in the Parliament. He used anti- Muslim slur during the Parliament session against fellow MP – Danish Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party on 21st September. He is heard saying on televised session of Parliament, “Yeh ugrawaaadi (militant) haiyeh aatankwaadi (terrorist) hai,” Bidhuri can be heard shouting during the proceedings. He also reportedly referred to Ali as a “Mullah aatankwadi, bharwa (pimp) and katwa (circumcised). Baahar phenko iss mulle ko (Throw this ‘mullah’ out) (The Wire, 2023) ”. Bidhuri’s use of highly inappropriate language, marking a troubling decline in the standards of democratic discourse in India, was met with disturbing approval from his colleagues who were seen laughing and cheering him on. Typically, such offensive language would provoke strong condemnation and criticism from fellow parliamentarians, drawing sharp rebukes. However, in this instance, neither the speaker nor other leaders from the BJP expressed any disapproval. Instead, shockingly, Bidhuri was rewarded with an elevation within the party, being appointed in charge of elections in Tonk district, Rajasthan.

Such hate speeches from the august institution of Parliament are normalizing the derogatory terms such as “Bharwa” and “Katwa” against Muslims. No ruling party MP condemned the use of such derogatory terms targeting Muslims in the Parliament. It conveys to the people that Muslims deserve such hatred and slurs and emboldens others on the streets to speak similar language or even worse.

Sakal Hindu Samaj and Allegations of “Love Jihad” and “Land Jihad”:

The most sustained and perhaps potent series of hate speeches was witnessed in the “Sakal Hindu Samaj” (all Hindu communities) rallies, called ‘Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha’ (rallies to express Hindu anger). According to some reports, around 50 such rallies took place from November 2022 to March 2023. In these rallies, the speakers through their provocative speeches sought to demonize the Muslim community by accusing Muslims of “land Jihad” and “love Jihad”. There is no data to prove that Muslims “lure” Hindu women to convert them or that Muslims are grabbing land. The statements given instigate the people to deprive a particular community of their right as citizens and actively urging people to discriminate against them. The speakers at the rallies openly called for violence against Muslims. For instance, on 30th January, the rally in Mumbai was attended by several top party leaders including BJP MLA and the party’s Mumbai president Ashish Shelar, BJP MP from Mumbai North Gopal Shetty, BJP MP from Mumbai North East Manoj Kotak, MLC Pravin Darekar, BJP secretary Vinod Shelar, and Sheetal Mhatre, former corporator and now member of Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena. T Raja Singh, MLA and suspended BJP leader said at the rally, “It is time the Hindu community stands up against the domination by these people. There’s anger in the hearts and minds of people… Our sisters and daughters are falling prey to the systematic designs of the other community.” He was referring to “love jihad” and called upon Hindus to resort to violence against “other” community.

In another such rally, on 25th February, in Navi Mumbai where Kajal Hindustani was the main speaker, she accused Muslims of grabbing land illegally and urged Hindus to deny houses to Muslims in Hindu residential societies. She said, “Only when the women of our house come out and question the government will Navi Mumbai be free of them. Do they seek authorization to build unlawful dargahs? Then why do you need authorization to demolish their property?” she asked. She further gave a call to not rent or sell residential units to Muslims. “If this is happening in your neighbourhood, form an association with bylaws stating that anyone who is not an idol worshipper should not be rented or sold a unit”. She went on to allege that, “in Navi Mumbai, land jihad has gotten so common that currently 25 Bangladeshi Muslims dwell in one room (Clarion India, 2023)”. Hindustani is deliberately calling Muslims Bangladeshi, insinuating that Muslims are illegal migrants, a rhetoric oft repeated by Hindu right wing.

In another rally on 12th March in Mumbai, Kajal Hindustani said, “There are three major aspects of Islamic aggression — love jihad, land jihad, and the problem of conversion. For these three Suleimani keedas (pests), there is a Ram-led solution, a solution for which you will not be stopped by the political leaders, the Supreme Court, or even the media. That solution is their economic boycott (Deshpande, 2023). The call for economic boycott of Muslims is meant to spread ill feelings towards them, and calling upon Hindus to resort to an action. Economic boycott is a weapon in the war against the community on an unsubstantiated, baseless and wild allegations.

At a rally in Mumbai organized by Maharashtra Gad-Durg Rakshan Samiti along with the Hindu-Jan-Jagruti Samiti, Satish Kochrekar said “Almost all the forts in Maharashtra have been encroached today and all the encroachers belong to the Muslim community. They have taken over the entire fort premises in an illegal way, as they don’t have a single document that could prove their original ownership of that property. This way they are taking over all the heritage structures that were built by Shivaji Maharaj and stern action is necessary from the state government. Therefore, we demand that strict guidelines should be issued to remove these encroachers from our forts and at the same time the government officials under whose watch these encroachments took place, should be penalised (Indian Express, 2023).” This accusation of illegal encroachments on forts promotes enmity and furthers the narrative that Muslims illegally occupy public spaces. The allegations of encroachment are, once again, baseless and unsubstantiated, calculated to evoke hatred against Muslims.

It is noteworthy that the notion of “love jihad” is actively endorsed by certain states. Despite the absence of concrete data on interfaith marriages or instances of “forced marriages,” several states in India have enacted anti-conversion laws, citing a purported surge in “love jihad” cases. Maharashtra, in particular, experienced heightened communal tensions following the tragic murder of Shraddha Walkar, allegedly by her partner, Aftab. Politicians and a section of media used this incident to portray Muslim men as wild, aggressive and generally targeting Hindu women. This narrative permeated public debates, giving a pretext to the Maharashtra government to pass a resolution establishing the “Interfaith Marriage Coordination Committee.” Propaganda film “The Kerala Files” contributed to this perception. The fervor created by hate speeches during Hindu Jan Akrosh Morchas, coupled with political support for this unfounded narrative and the impact of propaganda from “The Kerala Files”, resulted in various incidents where interfaith couples faced intimidation, and forced the family of Divya and Imran from Vasai to call off their wedding reception. Divya and Imran were in a relationship for past eleven years. The couple had the blessings of their families. The reception was to take place in Vasai but was called off after opposition from local organizations, post the tensions that gripped Vasai after Shraddha Walkar case (Ghosh, The Hindustan Times, 2022).

The narrative of “love jihad” also gained currency largely due to the statements and positions of political representatives, no less than the Union ministers and Prime Minister himself. Amit Shah, the union home minister, during election rallied held in Chhattisgarh proclaimed that Bemetara had become a hub of “love jihad”. He further said, “OBC daughters are becoming targets as Bhupesh Kaka’s (uncle) government is sleeping”. Shah was referring to a case where Bhuneshwar Sahu was killed in Biranpur after communal riots took place. The communal riots were triggered by scuffle between two schoolchildren hailing from different religious communities. One of the reasons cited for communal tensions in Biranpur was prevalence of cases of interfaith marriages. The Hindu right wing and BJP proclaimed it to be a case of “love jihad” using this case. After the communal riots, the residents of the village have arrived at an understanding that Muslims can no longer marry Hindus (Misra, 2023).

The ramification of the propaganda of “love jihad” apart from demonizing Muslim community is primarily controlling the bodies of Hindu women and restricting women’s agenda. While such narratives amplified by the Hindu right wing also emanates from a patriarchal agenda, the RSS has partly sought to justify these restrictions on Hindu women by blaming the Muslims! Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) joint general secretary Krishna Gopal attributed the social evils against women, like child marriage, ban on widow re-marriage, and ‘sati pratha’ and illiteracy to Islamic invasions. Gopal said that in the medieval period, women and girls were subjected to various restrictions to “protect them” from invaders. Gopal added, “Temples were demolished, big universities destroyed and women were in danger. Lakhs of women were abducted and sold in markets the world over. Be it (Ahmad Shah) Abdali, (Muhammad) Ghori, (the Mahmud of) Ghazni, all of them took women from here and sold them in markets across the world. (Nath, 2023)”. Here again Muslim men and those who invaded India are depicted as lustful, virile and who raped and targeted Hindu women.

Economic Boycott of Muslims:

Another important manner in which symbolic violence is perpetrated in 2023 is the open call for economic boycott of Muslims which would result in obvious marginalization of the Muslims and edging them out of the economy. Economic boycott is used as a weapon to inflict collective punishment on the Muslim community. The entire community is targeted- including innocents with no connection to violence or any wrongdoing. For instance, in Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma held the “miyas” — a pejorative term for Muslims of Bengali origin in Assam — are responsible for the high prices of vegetables in Guwahati and issued a call for the state’s youth to come forward to take up jobs in order to “clean” Guwahati from “miyas”. He said, “Today most of the vegetable sellers, rickshaw pullers, bus drivers, Ola-Uber drivers are Miya Muslims. Local Assamese youth should compete with them and snatch these jobs (Ghosh, 2023)”. Such statements promote ill will and animosity against Muslim “miyas” accusing them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and those who take away jobs.

The Hindu right-wing organizations in Nuh also called for similar boycotts against Muslims. A video that emerged from a rally organized in Hansi city of Hisar district on August 2 by Hindutva organisations like the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a leader was heard making an open call to boycott local Muslim vendors and asking the Muslims to leave the town in two days. He reportedly said only Hindu vendors would stay in town. If Muslim vendors stayed back, they would be responsible for their own fate, he added. His speech was followed by hate sloganeering, with the crowd chanting “Desh ke gaddaro ko goli maaro saalon ko” (Shoot the traitors of the country). Other chants calling for the killing of Muslims could also be heard (Gupta, 2023). In a similar rally at Jantar Mantar on 20th August, Hindu Sena Chief, Vishnu Gupta called for economic boycott of Muslims in Nuh. He added, “Nuh has become the hub of terrorism and cybercrime. It needs to be merged with Gurgaon and Palwal so that the area is managed properly. A CRPF camp and Army cantonment should be set up there as well” (Anand, 2023). Nuh has majority Muslim population. The statement indicates that areas where there is large Muslim population is at the risk of terrorism as Muslims are perceived terrorists.

In a “dharm Sabha” (religious meeting) organized by Hindu right-wing organization called Rudra Sena in Chakrata in Uttarakhand, religious leaders called for economic boycott against Muslims. “Don’t buy anything from them. You should trade only among yourselves...” said President of Hindu Raksha Sena, Prabodhanand Giri. He added, “The state government should stop tourism and instead promote pilgrimage in Devbhoomi..(but) many non-Hindus are infiltrating into the state. (Das, 2023)”.

Exhorting violence against Muslims:

Expressing deep concern, it has been frequently observed that hate speeches have been directed towards specific communities, unabashedly advocating violence and fostering animosity. The calls for taking up arms or endorsing the killing of Muslims are attributed to various factors, often rooted in prejudiced stereotypes. One prevalent stereotype that demonizes Muslims is the portrayal of them as anti-national and terrorists. Another divisive trope employed to accentuate the Hindu-Muslim binary in India revolves around Hindu deities such as Ram and Hanuman. These deities are frequently juxtaposed against the perceived “invaders,” “barbarians,” and allegedly cruel Muslim rulers. Notably, figures like Aurangzeb in Maharashtra and Tipu Sultan in Karnataka are particularly vilified, coinciding with the occurrence of communal riots in these states over their historical depictions.

Addressing a BJP workers’ convention, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that in the coming Assembly elections in Karnataka, the people need to choose between Prime Minister Narendra Modi who built the Ram Temple at Ayodhya and developed Kashi, Kedarnath and Badrinath, and “those who glorify Tipu Sultan”, between those who are with “the tukde-tukde gang” and those who are “with patriots”. He added that, “On the one hand, there is Prime Minister Modi, who has developed Ayodhya, Kashi, Kedarnath and Badrinath. On the other hand, there are people who glorify Tipu. People of the state have to choose between the two. People of Karnataka have to decide whether they want to be with the patriots or with those who want India to be in pieces (Indian Express, 2023).  Shah underscored the developmental achievements of Prime Minister Modi on one hand, and, on the other, criticized those who elevate Tipu Sultan, using him as a symbol to portray Muslims as unpatriotic and a threat to the nation. This rhetoric contributes to the narrative that aligns Tipu Sultan with those deemed as not loyal to the nation.

Taking a cue, Karnataka BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel asked people to chase away Tipu Sultan supporters “to the forest” as “only those who perform bhajans of Ram” should remain “in this land”. Speaking at a rally at Yelburga in Koppal district, Kateel asked people to take a pledge and decide “whether you want the offspring of Tipu, Ram devotees or Anjaneya devotees in this land… Those who love Tipu should not remain in this land and only those who perform bhajans of Ram should” (Indian Express, 2023). Kateel was referring to Muslims when he said offspring of Tipu Sultan and his supporters. There is an attempt to promote animosity by strengthening the binary between Hindus and Muslims and asserting that Muslims have no place in India.

Narrative that Muslims have affinity to Pakistan or it’s their “natural” home:

In Maharashtra’s Nanded city, on 16th April, Kalicharan Maharaj addressed a gathering and said, “the Muslims who stay in the locality are from Pakistan. They are the ones who burst crackers after Pakistan wins a cricket match against India” (Indian Express, 2023). In Sangamner, Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, Sudarshan News editor Suresh Chavhanke referred to how certain parts of the state (Maharashtra) were “beginning to look like Pakistan” and no one was taking any action. Chavhanke was addressing a rally organized by the Sakal Hindu Samaj on 6th June. Not surprisingly, the hate speeches triggered communal riots after the rally (Indian Express, 2023). Chavhanke was repeating the rhetoric that Pakistan is the natural home of Muslims and they don’t belong to India.

Muslims as terrorists and exhorting blatant violence against Muslims:

At the meeting in Barmer of Rajasthan on 2nd February, apart from accusing Muslims of resorting to terror, Ramdev Baba compared Hinduism with Islam and Christianity and alleged the two faiths were obsessed with conversion while Hinduism taught its followers to do good (Indian Express, 2023). A right-wing leader in Samba district of Jammu was seen in a video on social media, calling the members of Hindu community to “pick up swords and be ready for war”, against the Muslims. The unidentified leader from Antar Rashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) in the video can be heard telling people that “war is not a new thing, and it has been done in past eras too”. The programme was held at Ghagwal in the Samba district of the Jammu division on 1st May (Kashmir Observer, 2023).  Both the statements urge Hindus to take up arms to fight the Muslims. Ramdev baba alleged that Islam and Christianity encourage religious conversions, thus promoting enmity between religious communities.

There is also a threat to target dargahs and mosques in some places in India. Threatening to remove loudspeakers atop mosques used for azaan, MNS leader Raj Thackerey said, “in the past few days, mosques have again started playing the aazan over loudspeaker. Either the government dismantle them, or the MNS will do it in their own way”. He further gave an ultimatum to the Mumbai Commissioner and the state government that they demolish an allegedly “illegal dargah” off the coastline of minority-dominated Mahim, or else the MNS activists would build a Ganesh temple next. After Thackrey demanded action, this alleged “illegal” structure in Mahim, Mumbai, which was over a century old was demolished (Devasia, 2023).

Madrassa- A sign of backwardness:

Madrassas where religious instruction about Islam is imparted along with other subjects are increasingly being delegitimized by the state. Earlier viewed as “dens of terrorism”, now madrassas are viewed as obsolete and undesirable. This discourse is especially dominant in Assam where the Chief Minister has been targeting madrassa. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said in Belagavi, Karnataka that he intends to shut down all madrasas in his state, maintaining that they are not needed in “New India”. He said, “I come from Assam, where everyday people arrive from Bangladesh. There is a threat to our culture, traditions. I have shut down 600 madrasas, but my intention is to shut down all madrasas. It was said how can you say such a thing? I replied I can say such a thing because we don’t need madrasas, we need doctors and engineers. Schools, colleges and universities are our need,” he said, adding “there is no need for madrasas in New India (Indian Express, 2023)”.  Madrassas are perceived to be centres of religious learning, mostly of radicalization of Muslims. Sarma sought to promote the image of backwardness of madrassas.

During a rally in Tijara on November 1, Sandeep Dayma from BJP said the Gurudwaras that have come up in the desert state will become “open sores” and should be uprooted. Later, Sandeep Dayma issued an apology, claiming that it was a “slip of tongue“. “I wanted to say ‘masjid-madrasa’, but somehow said Gurudwara,” Dayma said in a video (Jha, 2023).

Muslim Kings and India:

No patriotic Muslim can have regard for Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis claimed while remarking that the minority community in Maharashtra and India were “not Aurangzeb’s descendants”. “Nobody in either Maharashtra or in the country has Aurangzeb’s blood running in them. So, who are the progeny of Aurangzeb that have risen suddenly? The Muslims in this country are not his descendants…Aurangzeb had come here to oppress Hindus. Tales of his atrocities can run to thousands of pages. So, no patriotic Muslim can regard Aurangzeb,” (Banerjee, 2023). Mr Fadnavis was speaking in Nagpur and implied that Muslims (progeny of Aurangzeb) have no place in India. He sought to reinforce the rhetoric that Aurangzeb was anti-Hindu.

Union Minister of State for Law and Justice Satya Pal Singh Baghel, “Tolerant Muslims can be counted on fingers. Their numbers are not even in thousands. Even that is a tactic. It is to stay in public life with a mask. This route then leads to the house of the Governor and Vice President or Vice Chancellor. But when they retire from there, they begin to speak their mind”. He further said, “I have never agreed with (Ram Manohar) Lohia ji’s views that Ghouri and Ghaznavi were looters while Akbar, Dara Shukoh and Razia Sultan are our ancestors. The Delhi sultanate was run based on Shariat. It was a hardline regime (Financial Express, 2023)”. This statement implied that all Muslims are intolerant including those holding important public positions.

Christians and Conversions:

On 31st March, Munirathna, Horticulture Minister in the Basavaraj Bommai government in Karnataka, said, “Christians are converting people in this moment also. Conversion is maximum in the slums. In places where 1,400 people are there, 400 have been converted. If they come (for conversion) then kick them out or give complaint at the police station (Indian Express , 2023).”

Other forms of Exclusion and Invisibilization of Muslims:

Cinema and Religion:

Cinema is a powerful medium of social messaging. Cinema is increasingly used to reinforce the dominant narrative and ideology by regulating it in multiple ways. For instance, A ‘dharm (religion) censor board’ is set up to check the insult of Hindu deities and culture in films, documentaries, web series and other mediums of entertainment. A 10-member censor board was constituted under the chairmanship of Shankaracharya Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati to check defamation of Hindu traditions. This board would act as a guide to prevent any filming or broadcast of a video or audio insulting Hindu gods and goddesses or cursing the culture. Steps would be taken through the board to stop the production of films that insulted Hindu deities. On the other hand, any cinema or art form which portray the ruling dispensation in a critical light is not tolerated and this is promoting ‘cancel culture’. The police cracked down on the students of Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi for wanting to watch the BBC documentary on Prime Minister. The police cancelled the scheduled screening on the campus and detained the students. At the same time, the Prime Minister is seen promoting certain films which suits the narratives of the ruling party. This reflected in his support for the film ‘The Kerala Files’. Prime Minister Modi reportedly said, “Such a beautiful state (Kerala) of the country, where people are hardworking and talented. This ‘Kerala Story’ film brings out terror conspiracies happening in that state. It is unfortunate that Congress can be seen standing with this terror trend that is seeking to ruin the country (Times of India, 2023).

State Spending on promotion of religion:

Figure 3 (Part 2)


The Gujarat government sanctioned Rs 37.80 crore towards the Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham Development Board (GPYVB) for the development of village level small shrines of different institutions/trusts. Out of which, Rs 7.45 crores have been sanctioned for the development of 4 shrines in Vadodara district. These 4 shrines in Vadodara district include Sri Vyaseshwar Mahadev at Barkal in Shinor Taluk, Sri Garhbhavani Mataji Temple at Dabhoi, Sri Bhathiji Temple at Raipur and Sri Mahisagar Mata Temple at Dabka in Padra Taluka. Similarly, for the development of 6 shrines in Mehsana district, Rs. 15.66 crore works have been sanctioned. These shrines include Sri Thakorji temple at Upera in Unjha taluka, Sri Neelkantheshwar Mahadev temple at Unawa in Unjha, Sri Hanuman temple and Sri Shanidev temple, Sri Dashama temple at Kadi and Sri Krishna temple at Valam in Visanagar taluka. Rs 4.48 crores is sanctioned for the work of beautification of Shree Khodiar Mata Mandir and Lake at Vurana of Sami Taluka in Patan district. A sanction of Rs 1.64 crore has been given for the development works of Shree Khodaldham temple at Kagawad in Jetpur taluka in Rajkot district.

A sanction of Rs 1.30 crore has been given for the development works of Sri Riddhi-Sidhi Ganapati Temple at Medhasan in Modasa taluka in Aravalli district and of Rs 47.57 lakhs has been given for the development works of the state government-owned Shri Chandraswara Mahadev Temple at Chandrasan in Mehsana district. Rs 2.70 crore is sanctioned for the development works of the Shri Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple at Bhutiavasana in Patan district and Rs. 4.09 crore approval is given for Bhetadiya Bhan mandir of Dholka taluka (Desh Gujarat, 2023).


There was a substantial jump in the budget allocated to protection of ‘gaushalas’-housing stray cattle in 2023-24. The provision for the Haryana Gau Sewa Aayog is proposed to be increased to Rs. 400 crores in 2023-24 from the present allocation of Rs 40 crores (Vasudeva, 2023).


According to some reports, the then Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai had allocated Rs 1,000 crore for the development and renovation of temples and mutts (a monastery in Hinduism), apart from grants to specific temples, in the state’s 2023-24 budget (Sundar, 2023).


Bihar Chief Minister Nitesh Kumar sanctioned Rs. 72-crores plan to redevelop the Punourdham in Sitamarhi, which is believed to be the birthplace of Hindu deity Sita, the consort of Lord Ram (Singh, 2023).

Madhya Pradesh:

The Madhya Pradesh government has sanctioned construction of Hanuman Lok at Jamsamwali temple at a cost of Rs 35 crores on 26-acre land on the pattern of Mahakal Lok in Ujjain (Gupta S. , 2023).


The Maharashtra government approved the Pandharpur Temple Development Plan worth Rs 73.80 crores and the Akkalkot Pilgrimage Development Plan worth Rs 368 crores. CM Shinde also distributed a fund of Rs 10 crores to the Pandharpur Municipal Council for the repair of roads. CM Shinde also increased the travel subsidy to Pandharpur from Rs. 5 crores to Rs. 10 crores (Marpakwar, 2023).


The Odisha government approved of an increase of Rs. 1000 crores – from Rs. 3208 crores to Rs. 4224.22 crores- in total cost outlay for an Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme that aims to transform basic infrastructure in Puri town which is famous for the Lord Jagannath Temple. Under the ABADHA scheme, development of the heritage security zone around the 12th Century Shree Jagannath Temple, Shree Setu project, Musa River revival plan, Jagannath Ballav pilgrim centre, housing projects, Puri Lake development project, upgradation of Raghunandan Library, Acharya Harihar square re-development project, Atharnala heritage project, Matha Development Initiative and development of heritage lakes are being taken up (Barik, 2023).


Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann launched the Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra scheme, providing free travel, lodging, and other facilities for residents wishing to undertake pilgrimages. The scheme, which will cost Rs. 40 crores ($5.6 million), allows pilgrims to visit religious sites across the country on air-conditioned trains and buses. Free food, accommodation, local travel, and medical assistance will also be provided. The scheme will last for three months and is open to all residents of Punjab. Under this Rs. 40-crores scheme, which started on the birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, pilgrims will be able to visit religious places such as Hazur Sahib in Nanded, Patna Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Varanasi, Mathura, Vrindavan, Mata Naina Devi temple, Chintpurni, Ajmer Sharif among others on air-conditioned (AC) trains and buses free of charge (Hindustan Times, 2023).

Uttar Pradesh:

A budget of Rs 133 crores has been sanctioned by UP government to provide proper facilities and amenities for the large number of tourists and devotees who come to Ayodhya. The amount will be utilised in phases to provide toilets, information centres and streamline the movement of pedestrians who throng the religious sites in the temple town.

The UP government allocated Rs 2,500 crores for the preparations of Maha Kumbh Mela 2025 against Rs 621.55 crore for the financial year 2022-23. The UP government has sanctioned Rs 50 crores in the current financial year for the integrated tourism development of Shakti Peeth Maa Shakumbhari Devi Temple and Rs 40 crores for the integrated development of Prayagraj. Furthermore, provision of Rs 2.50 crore has been made for the establishment of Uttar Pradesh Eco Tourism, Lucknow Board and Rs 2.50 crore for Shri Naimisharanya Dham Teerth Vikas Parishad (Economic Times, 2023).

In a bid to promote Hindu religion, the Uttar Pradesh government has ordered district magistrates (DMs) to organise temple events, including recitation of Durga Saptashati and Ramcharitmanas during Chaitra Navratri and Ram Navami festivals. All DMs will be given Rs 1 lakh each for payment to artistes performing at the events, said the order passed by Mukesh Meshram, principal secretary in the state’s culture department, on March 10. It is worth noting that the events which will be held at government (public) expense (Chandra , 2023).

West Bengal:

The West Bengal Government is likely to spend Rs. 150 crore for the Gangasagar mela, Minister Aroop Biswas announced (Singh S. S., 2023).


Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao announced a Rs 1,000-crores plan to renovate the Kondagattu temple dedicated to Hanuman in Jagtial, 200km from Hyderabad (Koride, 2023).


 A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for ‘Riverine based tourism Circuit’ is signed in Assam.  The project is being developed under the Sagarmala Programme at an initial cost of Rs.40-45 crores. This Sagarmala project will connect the seven historic temples namely Kamakhya, Pandunath, Ashwaklanta, Doul Govinda, Umananda, Chakreshwar and Auniati Satra situated in Guwahati (North East Today, 2023).

Additionally, under the Assam Darshan Scheme, 8000 namghars will be preserved by the government by providing Rs. 2.5 lakhs to each. Furthermore, under Assam Darshan Scheme, Rs. 15 lakhs each will provided for Assam religious places such as Namghar, Mandir, Mosque, Church which are old for more than 100 years. Rs. 180 crores have been allocated for Assam Darshan Scheme by the government in the budget (Guwahati Plus, 2023).


The Congress government in Rajasthan has sanctioned funds amounting to Rs. 13.48 crores for development projects at temples and dargahs in three districts to promote pilgrimage and religious tourism. The religious places are situated in Nagaur, Jaisalmer and Alwar districts (The Hindu, 2023). The Rajasthan government will spend over Rs. 24 crores to promote religious tourism and develop various infrastructure facilities for pilgrims. A sum of over Rs. 3 crores have been given for Butati in Nagaur district. Also, around Rs. 1.65 crore has been given to Ghatveshwar Mahadev Temple, and over Rs. 1.6 crore to Harmal Das Ji Maharaj Temple, among others.  Rs. 1.5 crores have been sanctioned for development works at the historic religious tourist place Shri Kale Dungar Rai Mandir complex located in Jaisalmer. Over Rs. 4 crores were sanctioned for the development work of Mataji Temple and Ganga Mata Temple, Talvriksha, located at Bansur Fort, in the Alwar district. Besides, renovation and upgradation works of various tourist spots will be undertaken. Rs. 10 crores were approved for development work. In this, over Rs. 3.8 crore is for Shree Thakur Ji Mandir Dhipri in Kota, over Rs. 2.4 crore for the ancient Shiva temple at Pipalda, and Rs. 1.45 crore for the ancient Charbhuja temple at Sinhad in Rajsamand, among others (Sharma, 2023).

Expulsion of Muslims from Public Spaces:

In Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand saw a sustained campaign and threats to Muslims to leave Uttarkashi (Times of India, 2023). This threat of expulsion prompted Muslim bodies to reach out to Amit Shah, Union Home Minister to intervene. In the same incident, amid the ongoing communal tension in Uttarkashi district following the arrest of two men, including one from the Muslim community, for allegedly trying to “abduct” a minor girl of a different faith, members of right-wing groups have been meeting Hindu landlords in Purola town and asking them to get shops and houses of Muslims “vacated”. The development comes after notices asking Muslim shopkeepers to leave or “prepare for consequences” were found pasted on their shops. They were given a deadline of June 15 to flee or “face action”. Over 30 shops have remained shut for more than a month. Though police removed some of the posters, Muslims in the Uttarkashi town have alleged that the tactics to intimidate them have only increased, with even old families settled for decades now being targeted. Earlier, it was the “outsiders” who were at the receiving end of the threats. Most Muslims also fled Purola. Only after the High Court directed the state to act to defuse tensions, the Muslims stopped fleeing.

A PIL was filed at the Allahabad High Court seeking a ban on entry of “non-Hindus” into the Gyanvapi compound to prevent damage to purported “Hindu signs/symbols found during a (district) court-mandated survey“. The PIL had sought directives to the Uttar Pradesh government and the Varanasi administration to “seal the entire Gyanvapi mosque” without affecting an ASI survey now underway at the disputed site. The PIL was dismissed.

On the 13th of May in Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra, a religious procession was led by the town’s Muslim community comprising of more than 25–30 participants. Upon reaching the Trimbakeshwar temple, a group of young individuals, in adherence to tradition, attempted to stop at the north door of the temple. Their intention was to stand on the inside stairs to fan incense (dhoop) in the general direction of the deity, a practice upheld for many years. However, security officers stationed there prevented them from ascending the steps.

A notice board positioned at the temple entrance explicitly states that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the premises. Subsequently, a FIR (First Information Report) was lodged against four individuals under the Indian Penal Code section 295, which pertains to injuring or defiling a place of worship with the intent to insult a religion. The complaint leading to this legal action was filed by Shri Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust, citing provisions from its trust constitution.

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Invisibilizing of Muslim heritage in Educational Institutions:

A career guidance seminar, which started off with a small Islamic prayer at Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad Arts, Science and Commerce College in Malegaon, Maharashtra led to the suspension of the college principal, who has now been booked by police. The college is run by a Sena (UBT) leader and former BJP MLC Dr Apoorva Hiray. The FIR was filed after right wing members protested against the event alleging that students were being lured towards Islam. Maharashtra’s Ports Development and Mining Department Minister Dada Bhuse also sought action against those responsible for the event.

The playing of Azaan over a Mumbai suburban school’s public address system during the morning assembly snowballed into a storm, leading to the suspension of a staff member. A 30-second clip of the Islamic call to prayer originating from the school in Kandivali was recorded by a group of morning walkers and circulated online. Soon parents gather outside the Kapol Vidyanidhi International School (ICSE board). Demonstrations by the BJP, MNS and Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena ensued. Police bandobast had to be deployed to avert a law and order situation. School principal Reshma Hedge attempted to pacify parents and political outfits, by saying the prayer was an initiative to educate students on various faiths. However, with protesting parents threatening to sit on strike on the school premises, the teacher who played the Azaan was suspended, pending inquiry. A Vedic song was also played to pacify the protestors.

A Hindi teacher with the Symbiosis Arts and Commerce junior college, Pune was arrested on the charge of outraging religious feeling, following ABVP members’ protest outside the institution for two days after a video clip of his alleged remarks got circulated on the social media. The Deccan Gymkhana police arrested the teacher, Ashok Dhole (43). The undated video shared multiple times on the social media shows the teacher of the junior college, affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune University, making remarks comparing gods of different religions as a part of a story-telling. It ends with a message that there is only one god and human beings have given multiple names to god.

Invisibilizing Muslim heritage in syncretic traditions:

Amid protests by right-wing groups, the Quran is not recited as per the tradition of the annual car festival of Sri Channakeshava Swamy temple in Belur in Hassan district. The practice of reciting Quran before the ‘rath’ is part of the tradition at the festival. But Hindu workers objected to the recitation alleging it is against the Hindu culture. The workers of Hindu outfits staged a protest on March 28 against the recitation and served an ultimatum to the authorities to withdraw the custom before April 3. Following threats, this festival, the Qazis limited it to the recitation of verses. Meanwhile, the workers of Hindu organisations shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans.  After placing Shri Channakeshava Swami Utsav Murti on the chariot, the family of Syed Sajjad Bhasha Qadri of Doddamedur village stood on the steps of the temple and recited the Shloka as per tradition. After that the chariot festival started.

Invisibilizing and de-legitimizing History:

The Hindu right wrongly claims that India is Hindu Rashtra and the superiority of Hindu religion and heritage over other religions and culture. India, a land of diversity is celebrated for its syncretic traditions and shared culture. But in recent times, the right wing has been targeting schools and other institutions where the blend of all religions is visible. Historical figures including Muslim kings are being targeted and a smear campaign run against them.

In Assam especially, attempts are made to obliterate any historical references to Muslims. In fact, victory over “Muslim invaders” by non-Hindu kings is valorised. For instance, the Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Samiti (BISS) or Indian History Compilation Committee observed March 28 as Mahavijay Divas to mark the “great victory” of Kamarupa king Prithu’s forces over Khilji’s army in 1206. Promoting Kamarupa king Prithu is part of an RSS-backed body’s bid “to bring Indian history out of its imperial past and provide it with references from a national historical and cultural perspective (The Hindu, 2023)”.

The right wing argue that these kings were “Muslim kings” who invaded India to convert Hindus and desecrate Hindu temples and places of worships. That they were cruel and killed and raped Hindu women. These “Muslim kings” are used as a medium to mobilize Hindu youth and to besmirch the contribution of Muslims in Indian history and society. In Navi Mumbai, a Muslim youth was detained for using Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s portrait as his WhatsApp profile picture. He was booked under Sections 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, and residence) of the Indian Penal Code.

In another incident, the police in Kagal town in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur arrested Farukh Asalkar, a shopkeeper for allegedly posting a photo of 18th-century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan on his social media account. This arrest comes against the backdrop of multiple incidents of violence in Kolhapur and Ahmednagar over posting images of Tipu Sultan and Mughal ruler Aurangzeb on social media.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswas Sarma claimed that Bagh Hazarika aka Ismail Siddiqui was an imaginary character. Bagh Hazarika was a famed warrior who belonged to a small village near Sivasagar. The king of Assam at the time, Chakradhwaj Singha was so fascinated by his heroic deeds that Ismail Siddique was made commander of 1,000 soldiers (Hazar means thousand). The legend of Ismail Siddiqui is well known and celebrated in Assam. But Sarma’s denial of his existence underscores the ruling dispensation’s attempt to erase the contribution of Muslims to Indian history (Borthakur, 2023).

Renaming of Places to Purge of “foreign” influence:

The disturbing trend of renaming continued in 2023 where names which sounded Mughal or Muslim were replaced by Hindi names. This, the right wing argues, is to purge the places of “foreign influence”. For instance, the Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens, popularly called the ‘Mughal Gardens’, were renamed Amrit Udyan on January 28, 2023. In Uttar Pradesh in particular there are strong demands to rename cities. There is a demand to rename Lucknow to Lakhanpur or Laxmanpur. Similarly, there are demands to rename Ghazipur district to Vishwamitra Nagar in honour of Maharishi Vishwamitra and Bahraich district as Maharaja Suldev Rajbhar Nagar. Aligarh’s name may be changed to Harigarh.

In Maharashtra, Aurangabad and Osmanabad cities have been renamed as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar and Dharashiv respectively. Similarly, Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar is to be renamed as Ahilya Nagar. Ahilya Nagar will be dedicated to Ahilyabai Holkar who was the queen of the Maratha Empire and was born in Chondi village of Ahmednagar district.

Reclaiming places of worship as Hindu structures:

In Aurangabad, Maharashtra, the collector ordered a ban on enter in Jumma Mosque claiming the structure has an ‘appearance of a temple’. As per the trustees of the mosque, the mosque has been in existence for decades and the Maharashtra government had declared the structure of the masjid as an ancient and historical monument and is enlisted in the Schedule of protected monuments. However, in May in 2023, the Pandavwada Sangharsh Samiti in order to create disturbance in Jalgaon’s Erandol taluka, applied to the district collector claiming the ancient monument is having the “appearance of a mandir” and therefore the occupation of the Muslim community must be vacated, the plea said. The Samiti also sought for the illegal construction made by the petitioner trust to be removed and a madarsa run by the trustees also to be stopped.

The 150 years old Sunehri Mosque in New Delhi is sought to be demolished by New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) as it is deemed to be a traffic hazard. NDMC had issued a notice. As per the NDMC notice, the matter concerns traffic snarls in the area, and seems more of an unnecessary enforcement than an actual need. A similar notice had been served at the Mamun-Bhanja shrine at Faiz Road, Paharganj, which was demolished on August 20, 2023, in the dark, at 2:30 am. Before that, on April 23, two mazars (sacred tomb-shrines) near the Sunehri Bagh mosque were removed as part of an anti-encroachment drive. The imam of the mosque has approached the court to stay the demolition (Ahmed, 2023).

[1] We immensely thank Mithila Raut for the incredible support provided for research assistance and processing of data.

[2] More than 200 persons are killed in the ongoing Manipur conflict


Part III

In the preceding sections of the report, the CSSS communal violence report looked into two dimensions of communal violence: physical violence and symbolic or attitudinal violence. This section of the report will look into structural violence. The findings presented in this report are derived from CSSS monitoring of the Mumbai editions of five newspapers, namely, Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu, Sahafat, and Inquilab for the year 2023. To enhance accuracy, CSSS has cross-verified the data from these sources with additional information obtained from other online sources.

Structural Violence:

The comprehension of communal violence against marginalized communities extends beyond overt physical manifestations such as communal riots, mob lynching, and hate crimes. In recent years, a discernible shift has been observed towards a more insidious and potent form of violence known as structural violence. This mode of violence is rooted in social structures, encompassing laws, legislations, and policies enacted and enforced by the state. The state, in this context, encompasses its various branches, including legislatures, the executive (at all levels), law enforcement agencies, local administrative bodies, educational institutions, and the judiciary, all of which receive state support.

The evolution of structural violence is evident in the strategic formulation, adoption, and implementation of laws and policies by the state that discriminate against, incarcerate, criminalize, dispossess, marginalize and / or prevent the communally targeted communities from reaching their full human potential. Extra-judicial killings is an instance of structural violence. Structural violence treats the targeted community as if they were second-class citizens. The state through its legal framework or undue application of coercive its powers, or discriminates against a community indulges in structural violence. An examination of the various forms of structural violence that transpired in 2023 serves to elucidate the multifaceted dimensions through which this systemic injustice is manifested.


The demolitions of properties owned by Muslim individuals without following the procedures established by law with the intention to collectively punish the community and inflict economic, social and physical harm has been the declared state policy of the BJP ruled state. The demolitions are ostensibly carried out on allegations of illegal encroachments to defend it in courts of law. Uttar Pradesh, MP and other BJP ruled states have declared instant demolitions without following the procedures mandated by law as state policy. Remarkably, even valid legal documentation has been overlooked.

The administration’s deployment of demolitions as a form of “collective punishment” deviates from established legal norms, sidestepping mandated due process and hearings. The frequency with which this punitive approach has been applied against the Muslim community has resulted in monikers such as “Bulldozer baba” for the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, right-wing organizations affiliated with the ruling party have not only endorsed but also advocated for Chief Ministers of other states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to adopt similar demolition strategies. This pattern underscores a disconcerting departure from established legal and procedural norms, raising fundamental questions about the fairness and adherence to the rule of law in such actions.

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The Prayagraj district administration demolished the house that was occupied by deceased gangster Atiq Ahmed’s wife and two sons. The officials from the Prayagraj Development Authority claimed that the house was constructed without a sanctioned plan. They further claimed that the house in Chakia area belonged to one Zafar Ahmad and that he was served notices before the demolition but Zafar Ahmad failed to respond to them. The electricity connection was in the name of Shaista Parveen (wife of Atiq Ahmed). The property was valued at INR 3 crores. Atiq, his wife, brothers and sons are among several others named as accused in the murder of Umesh Pal, who was the main witness in BSP MLA Raju Pal murder case.

Additionally, the Prayagraj Development Authority district administration and police on 20th March razed the house of Mohammad Ghulam, one of the prime accused in Umesh Pal murder case. The house was located in Mehdauri Uparhar locality. The authorities alleged that the construction of the house was illegal. The first notice to the Ghulam for illegal construction was served on 30th January and the demolition-cum-vacation order was passed on 23rd February. Ghulam’s family members, however, alleged that it was their ancestral house and had nothing to do with Ghulam. They claimed that he had already sold out his portion. Ghulam was one of the five assailants involved in Pal’s murder and carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head. This is the fourth house of Atiq aides to be bulldozed after Umesh Pal’s murder. Earlier, three houses were razed by the PDA in Chakia, Kasari Masari and Asrauli localities.

In another bizarre incident, the local authorities had demolished alleged ‘illegal’ portions of homes belonging to three Muslim youth accused of ‘spitting’ water on a religious procession. As per a complaint filed with the police, some people, who were part of the ‘Baba Mahakal Sawari’ procession in Ujjain on July 17, reportedly saw a few youngsters standing on the balcony of a building and “spitting water on them. Later the police clarified that they discovered during their investigation that the ‘spitting’ by the three Muslim youth was unintentional. Two of the accused are minors and brothers. They were sent to a juvenile home after they were produced in a court while the third accused has been remanded to judicial custody. The local authorities claimed that the portions demolished were illegally constructed. The local authorities who went for demolition were accompanied by drummers (The New Indian Express, 2023). The witnesses in the case have turned hostile.

In the largest demolition drive in 2023, the local administration in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, razed more than 90 houses in Nai Basti, citing allegations of encroachment on public land. Nai Basti, located just 600 meters from the disputed site believed by some to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Krishna, is a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. Despite having a century-long history of residence in the area, the residents of Nai Basti received notices declaring their homes as ‘encroachments’ a few months prior to the demolition. According to the Railways, the area is being cleared to convert the 21-kilometer stretch from Mathura to Vrindavan from narrow to broad gauge to facilitate the operation of trains such as the Vande Bharat Express.

The demolition carried out by the railway administration has had a profound impact on the lives of the residents, with some families forced to live in the open. The majority of Nai Basti’s inhabitants were involved in manual labor, and the demolitions abruptly halted their work, leaving them without the daily income essential for their survival. This drastic measure has resulted in severe disruptions and hardships for the affected families (Howale, 2023). The demolitions left more than 600 people homeless. The demolition was stayed by the Supreme Court.

Demolitions were employed as a tool for collective punishment in instances where properties owned by Muslims were dismantled by local administrations under the pretext of illegal construction, notably following communal riots in Vadodara and Nuh. The execution of these demolitions occurred in a markedly arbitrary manner, with affected individuals afforded insufficient opportunity to establish the legality of their properties. It is noteworthy that both communal riots were orchestrated subsequent to religious processions, and the demolitions followed hate speeches delivered by members of the ruling dispensation.

The aftermath of communal riots saw the demolition of properties, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of individuals who were not directly or indirectly involved in the acts of violence. This post-riot demolition practice signifies a paradigm shift in the discourse of communal violence, wherein the state assumes the role of an active participant, inflicting substantial harm on minority communities.

Reservations and state schemes for development of religious minorities:

The constitutional framework has instituted safeguards aimed at ensuring equitable opportunities and development for marginalized communities. However, a disconcerting trend has emerged wherein the state apparatus appears to contravene these safeguards, contributing to the marginalization and economic impoverishment of minority communities. This systematic marginalization is manifested through the deliberate denial of due shares in budget allocations to minority communities, intentional deprivation of resources to minority institutions and scholarships, and the revocation of protective measures under the pretext of labeling them as migrants and stripping them off the benefits of reservations. The ensuing examples illustrate instances of these practices.

In 2023, in Karnataka, the BJP government scrapped 4% reservations for Muslims and redistributed the same among the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas. The Lingayat and the Vokkaligas are dominant castes in Karnataka. H. D Deve Gowda’s government in 1994 had granted reservations to Muslims under 2B category of OBC quota. The granting of reservations to Muslims was upheld by the Supreme Court. The Karnataka government argued in favour of the move by claiming that Muslims were only economically backward and not socially backward. It is quite contrary to the observations of the Third Backward Class Commission, headed by Retired Justice Chinnappa Reddy which highlighted that Muslims were “socially and educationally backward”. It had also declared that the economic plight of the Muslims is close to that of the scheduled castes and in many educational parameters, Muslims fare worse than the scheduled castes. Interestingly, in the order spelling out the reclassification of the categories, Jains (Digamabaras) and Christians remain eligible for quota even though they too are based on religion. Christians and Jains are classified under the 2D category as per the government order.

The Budget allocation for the Ministry of Minority Affairs was reduced by 38% for the financial year 2023-24 to the year 2022-23. Several scholarship and skill development schemes got major fund cuts including the merit-cum means scholarship for professional and technical courses for students from minority communities. The schemes have been allotted funds of ₹44 crore in 2023, while the Budget for the same was ₹365 crore in 2022.

In 2023, the Centre announced discontinuation of the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) which offers research fellowship from six notified minority communities. MANF scholars from across 30 universities have urged Ms. Irani and her Ministry for Minority Affairs,  the nodal agency for distribution of MANF, to expedite the MANF hike process and disburse the fellowship on a monthly basis.

A study by Development Data Lab at Dartmouth College in US, looking at patterns of residence of Muslims and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) across cities and villages found that urban areas were as segregated as rural places for SCs and more segregated for Muslims. The study also found that public services such as piped water, closed drainage, schools and health clinics within cities were systematically allocated away from neighbourhoods where marginalised groups like SCs and Muslims lived. About 26% of urban Muslims live in neighbourhoods that are more than 80% Muslim while roughly 17% of urban SCs live in neighbourhoods where more than 80% of residents are SCs, which is very similar to the distribution of SCs in rural areas. “Cities replicate the social environments of their hinterlands. Districts with segregated villages have segregated cities,” noted the study, adding that people living in highly segregated cities were on average poorer than those in less segregated cities.

In Assam, About 40 lakh Assamese-speaking Muslims have been recognized as indigenous Assamese Muslims and a sub-group of the Assamese community. This move officially distinguishes the Assamese Muslims from the Bengali-speaking Muslims who have migrated from present-day Bangladesh since the late 1800s. Five Muslim groups — Goria, Moria, Deshi, Jolha and Syed — will be known as indigenous Assamese Muslims.


A recurring trope employed to displace minority communities, particularly Muslims, revolves around the allegation of illegal encroachment of land. This pretext serves as a justification for the demolition of residences and, more alarmingly, places of worship belonging to these communities. Despite the presence of pertinent documentation attesting to the legal status of these structures in many reported cases, the administration consistently conducts encroachment drives, resulting in the displacement of the affected individuals.

In recent years, such endeavors have become notably prevalent in Assam, with authorities asserting claims of land occupation by purported Bangladeshi migrants. This assertion, however, is often contradicted by the documented legitimacy of the structures targeted in these displacement efforts. The persistence of such actions, conducted in disregard of factual legal standing, compounds the vulnerability of minority communities and raises concerns about the systematic infringement upon their rights and properties.

For instance, in February, the Assam government approved the clearance of 1,900 hectares of land in Sonitpur district, impacting over 12,000 individuals whom the administration accused of residing there illegally for many years. This marked the fourth such operation within two months, as the Sonitpur district administration, under heightened security, initiated the process to reclaim allegedly “encroached” land in the Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) and neighboring revenue villages on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river in central Assam. While a majority of the occupants, mainly Bengali-speaking Muslims, had already vacated their homes after receiving notices in the preceding weeks, some were still in the process of relocating when the eviction drive commenced, as clarified by some affected families. These individuals asserted that they were never informed that the areas they inhabited were designated as forest or government land and claimed to have received benefits from various state and central government schemes (Deccan Herald, 2023).

Uttarakhand witnessed major “anti- encroachment” drives where the state claimed to have “liberated” 5000 acres of land previously encroached through what the CM referred to as ‘Land Jihad’. As part of an anti-encroachment campaign, the state has demolished approximately 500 Mazars and 50 temples. The Nainital district witnessed the highest number of such demolitions (Singh, 2023).

Police excesses/ extrajudicial killings:

The phenomenon of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary police actions has become a pernicious instrument employed to suppress marginalized social groups, displaying alarming frequency and a blatant disregard for established legal norms. In states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, these extrajudicial killings have not only garnered approval from right-wing organizations but have also generated a climate of fear among the minority communities. The chief ministers of these states have, paradoxically, received acclaim for such measures, exacerbating the sense of vulnerability among the minorities.

These instances of excesses compel victims and their families to confront a formidable challenge, as they find themselves compelled to contend with the very institutions entrusted with their protection and the upholding of the law. This divergence from established legal and ethical standards contributes to a broader context wherein the minorities encounter systemic obstacles in seeking justice and redress for the violence perpetrated against them.

In the Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, the police fatally shot a resident of Mohalla Sarai in Katra who was accused of robbing the house of Alok Gupta on September 19th. During the robbery, Alok Gupta and his family members were stabbed when they resisted, leading to Alok Gupta’s demise. Following a First Information Report (FIR), the police arrested Shahbaz. While being escorted for a court appearance after a medical examination in the evening, the police jeep lost balance on a highway near Batlaiya village due to a stray animal crossing its path.

According to the police, Shahbaz allegedly snatched a pistol from one of the police personnel and attempted to escape. Despite repeated warnings to surrender, Shahbaz reportedly fired at the police. In self-defence, the police claimed to have returned fire, resulting in Shahbaz being declared dead upon arrival at the hospital. The Superintendent of Police (SP) announced that the team, led by a circle officer, responsible for this commendable action would receive a reward of Rs 25,000 from the district police and Rs 50,000 from the state government (Rashid, 2023).

On September 22nd, Anish Khan, accused of assaulting a 40-year-old woman constable in the Saryu Express train on August 30, was shot dead by the Special Task Force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh Police and a team from the Ayodhya police. The encounter occurred in the Pura Kalandar area of Ayodhya during a collaborative operation between the UP STF and Ayodhya Police. The assault on the woman constable had sparked outrage, prompting the Allahabad High Court to take suo motu cognizance of the incident. The constable was on her way to Ayodhya for Sawan Mela duty when the attack occurred (The Hindu, 2023).

In a heart-rending incident, Mohammad Sajid Abbasi, a 28-year-old daily wage worker from Rataul village in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, was apprehended by the police on July 2nd under suspicion of gambling. Subsequently, no evidence was found against him, leading to his release. Unfortunately, within hours of being released, Abbasi passed away. His demise was attributed to injuries sustained from alleged police brutality, as claimed by his relatives. The family contends that he was subjected to severe beatings by the police, rendering him unable to stand upon his return home. Additionally, he reportedly exhibited frothing from his mouth, indicating distressing circumstances surrounding his treatment (Times of India, 2023).

In a bizarre case, a woman was arrested for allegedly praying in an “Islamic posture” in a Shiva temple in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. The woman was a patient who had come to visit her father. She went to the temple to seek blessings for her better health. Someone shot a video of her praying and uploaded it on social media. It was alleged on the video that she was “offering namaz” in the temple. The police arrested her under under IPC sections 295A (outraging religious sentiment), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) (Singh & Ansari, 2023). Top of Form

Enactment of new Laws/ implementation of laws:

In recent years, the state has implemented policies and laws that systematically marginalize vulnerable communities, employing legislative frameworks as ostensibly legitimate tools to perpetuate discrimination and criminalize specific social groups. A notable manifestation of this phenomenon is evident in the implementation of stringent anti-conversion laws, which, in practice, are wielded arbitrarily to incarcerate individuals on false allegations. These laws themselves in the first place are drafted deliberately in vague terms giving an advantage to the state to bring under its ambit a number of cases.

Furthermore, the state’s imposition of policies related to the wearing of the hijab in educational institutions exemplifies the utilization of “dress code” regulations as a means to obstruct the educational opportunities of Muslim women. An illustrative case occurred at Hindu College in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, where several students were denied entry and compelled to remove their burqas at the college gate. The authorities invoked the college’s dress code as the basis for refusing entry to students attired in burqas (CNBCTV18, 2023).

This trend underscores a concerning pattern wherein legal instruments and institutional policies are employed to perpetuate systemic discrimination and hinder the access of marginalized communities to education and other fundamental rights.

Anti- Conversion Laws:

Imam Hafiz Iqbal was detained after right-wing members in Aligarh filed a complaint accusing him of “converting Hindus in his mosque”. Iqbal was in jail since August 7. Imam was arrested under the state’s anti-conversion law. The imam was later released on 11th August after no evidence was found against him (Dilshad, 2023).

In a separate incident in Kanpur, Naib Tehsildar Ashish Gupta faced removal from his position in December after allegedly embracing Islam in order to marry a Muslim woman. An initial inquiry revealed a violation of the employee code, leading to his reassignment to the collectorate. Authorities conducted raids at various locations to locate the Muslim woman reportedly involved with Gupta. In response, the administration launched an inquiry led by the Tehsildar. Gupta’s wife asserted that he was compelled to convert for the purpose of marrying the Muslim woman and subsequently filed an FIR against five identified and six unidentified individuals with the Maudaha police under Sections 3/5 (1), 5 (2) of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act. The police apprehended the mosque caretaker, Mohammad Mushtaq, along with Kutubuddin Siddiqui, also known as Munna, and Asghar Ali from Bahraich. Prior to their incarceration, all three underwent medical examinations (Hindustan Times, 2023).

Mohammad Sabbir, resident of Indore, was convicted under the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act, 2021 in August. Hailed as the first conviction under the anti-conversion law in Madhya Pradesh, Sabbir was accused of raping and converting a girl into Islam. He was ordered to pay a fine of INR 56000 to the victim and INR 50,000 as compensation. He was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment (Times of India, 2023).


Authorities at M S University in Vadodara faced demands for action against a student who was captured on video performing namaz within the university campus. The footage shows a female student engaged in prayer outside the botany department’s lecture hall. This incident marks the third of its kind on the college campus. In response to the controversy, Professor Haribhai Kataria, the dean of the Faculty of Science, issued a notice imposing restrictions on all students and faculty members, prohibiting any form of religious activities within the faculty premises. The notice emphasized the Faculty of Science’s status as a premier institute of higher education, stating that engaging in religious activities within its premises is deemed inappropriate. The notice warned that any violation of this directive would result in appropriate disciplinary action.Top of Form


The utilization of delimitation as a strategic tool to manipulate constituency boundaries with the explicit intent of minimizing the electoral influence of Muslim populations has been observed, notably in the state of Assam. This strategic redrawing aims to render the votes of the Muslim community inconsequential, thereby facilitating the unimpeded dominance of the ruling party. Consequently, the ruling party is absolved from the necessity to engage with or safeguard the interests of the Muslim population.

The recent issuance of the final delimitation list for Assam, subsequent to a comprehensive revision of constituencies, underscores the culmination of this process. The conclusive delimitation order delineates adjustments to the boundaries of numerous constituencies, maintaining an aggregate count of 14 parliamentary and 126 assembly constituencies. Noteworthy alterations include modifications to 30 assembly constituencies, accompanied by the introduction of 26 new ones.

Critics posit that the delimitation proposal, ostensibly undertaken for administrative reasons, harbors a covert agenda to curtail the political representation of Assam’s Bengali-origin Muslim community. This community is often stigmatized as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), whose principal support base emanates from Assam’s Bengali-origin Muslims, contends that the delimitation exercise is poised to reduce the number of Muslim-majority assembly constituencies in the state from 29 to 22.

It is imperative to highlight that the delimitation process relies on demographic data derived from the 2001 census, as opposed to the more recent 2011 census. This methodological choice entails that demographic shifts, particularly increases in the state’s Muslim population, are not factored into the revision of existing Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) constituencies. Consequently, the preservation of these constituencies from being de-reserved remains unaffected by the evolving demographic landscape.


Structural violence, as manifested by the state, constitutes a systematic and deliberate means to marginalize vulnerable segments of society, resulting in their dispossession, displacement, and loss of life. This insidious form of violence is enacted with a high degree of organization and method, strategically implemented to render minority communities as second-class citizens, thereby contravening the principles outlined in the Constitution of India. This resultant marginalization extends beyond mere physical harm and encompasses a multifaceted assault on the rights, resources, and livelihoods of minority communities. The implications of such structural violence are particularly egregious, as it contravenes the foundational principles of equality and justice enshrined in the constitutional framework of India.

In this context, the state’s role in rendering minorities as second-class citizens is not only a violation of constitutional principles but also indicative of a systemic failure to uphold the fundamental tenets of a democratic and inclusive society. The ramifications of such actions extend beyond individual instances of violence, posing a broader challenge to the principles of social justice and equality enshrined in the constitutional ethos of the nation.


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