Image Credit – The Wire, Photo: Flickr/John S. Quarterman. CC BY-2.0

Irfan Engineer, Neha Dabhade and Mithila Raut


The month of April 2024, witnessed dramatic rise in communal discourse and targeting of Muslim minorities during election campaign for the 18th Lok Sabha. Even the Prime Minister of India delivered hate speeches in no less than ten occasions, according to the monthly monitoring of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. This monitoring is based on the reports from Mumbai editions of five newspapers – The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindu, Sahafat and Inquilab. Out of the seventeen hate speeches reported in these newspapers, ten were by the Prime Minister alone. Along with the hate speeches in the month of April 2024, there were two communal riots – one in West Bengal and the other in Jharkhand. Both the communal riots stemmed from conflicts over religious processions. Furthermore, there was a persistent effort to erase Muslim presence and heritage from public spaces. In the lead-up to the Lok Sabha election, there was a concerted campaign of spreading unfounded narratives demonizing Muslims for electoral gain.

As mentioned above, the highlight of communal violence in April 2024, was a slew of hate speeches. Out of the seventeen total hate speeches reported in the above-mentioned newspapers, the maximum, ten, were by Prime Minister Modi, three were delivered by Yogi Adityanath, two by Amit Shah, one by Giriraj Singh and one by Mangal Prabhat Lodha – all BJP ministers. These hate speeches sought to demonize Muslims, whip up hysteria about them by portraying them as a threat to the Hindu community and spread falsehood against them.

The seventeen speeches listed below refer to and invoke religion or seek votes in the name of religion which is prohibited by sections of the 123 (3) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. The section is as below:

  1. Corrupt practices.—The following shall be deemed to be corrupt practices for the purposes of this Act:—

(3) The appeal by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language or the use of, or appeal to religious symbols or the use of, or appeal to, national symbols, such as the national flag or the national emblem, for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate:

Provided that no symbol allotted under this Act to a candidate shall be deemed to be a religious symbol or a national symbol for the purposes of this clause.

(3A) The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.

The frequent invocation of religion by the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders, as described in the aforementioned context, constitutes hate speech under the law. These speeches aim to portray Muslims as a threat to other religious communities. They perpetuate stereotypes such as higher birth rates among Muslims, accusations of Muslims being “infiltration,” unsubstantiated claims of “love jihad,”- terming it as a conspiracy of Muslims and derogatory references to Muslims like “Rohingyas.” These narratives paint Muslims as a community intent on depriving others of national resources, fostering discord and enmity among religious groups.

Furthermore, the BJP uses the spectre of appeasement to target the Congress and other parties that do not align with an exclusivist Hindutva agenda. This rhetoric serves to marginalize Muslims within society. Additionally, issues like reservations are manipulated to create divisions between Muslims and OBCs, thus engineering further social cleavage.


Sr.No. Person Hate Speech Place Date
1. PM Modi Today, another old video of Manmohan Singh has surfaced where he is again saying that Muslims have the first right to the country’s resources. I urge the media to make people aware of this video and debate it. The country also needs to know the mindset of those who ran the coalition government for 10 years. We believe that the first claim is that of the poor, of the worker, of the farm labourer, of our poor mothers and sisters. They believe in appeasement, whereas we believe in saturating all with benefits (The Times of India, 2024)


Araria, Bihar 26th April, 2024
2. PM Modi Earlier, when their (Congress) government was in power, they had said that Muslims have the first right on the country’s assets. This means to whom will this property be distributed? It will be distributed among those who have more children. It will distributed amongst the infiltrators. Should your hard-earned money go to the infiltrators? Do you approve of this? This urban-naxal mindset, my mothers and sisters, they will not even leave your ‘Mangalsutra’. They can go to that level. The Congress manifesto says they will calculate the gold with mothers and sisters, get information about it and then distribute that property. They will distribute it to whom – Manmohan Singh’s government had said that Muslims have the first right on the country’s assets (Times of India, 2024a)


Banswara, Rajasthan 21st April, 2024
3. PM Modi I want to ask the shehzada, you insult and criticise kings and queens, but you do not speak of the atrocities committed by Nawabs, Nizams, Sultans, and Badshahs, over several centuries? Is that because you do not know about the contribution of the kings and queens, or is it because you want to indulge in appeasement politics? (The Hindu, 2024)


Belagavi, Karnataka 28th April, 2024
4. PM Modi Ahad (From) Tanjavar, Tahad (To) Peshawar’ is our land, was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s slogan for achieving the goal of Hindavi Swarajya. Will you (Kolhapur residents) support the agenda of Congress to divide the country? The Congress Shehzada will bring an inheritance tax through which 50 percent of the wealth you earn will be recovered. Your wealth will be distributed to those whom they had once said have the first right over India’s wealth (Patil, Maad, & Shetye, 2024)


Kolhapur, Maharashtra 27th April, 2024
5. PM Modi The mystery of Congress’s shehzada has been unravelled. He has brought an X-ray machine from abroad by which he intends to assess your wealth and redistribute it among its vote bank, If a fisherman wants to bequeath two of his boats to his son, he will be able to give only one.” (Patil, Maad, & Shetye, 2024)


Goa 27th April, 2024
6. PM Modi Our Constitution protects the property of all minorities. This means that when Congress talks of redistribution, it cannot touch the properties of minorities, it cannot consider Waqf properties for distribution, but it will eye the properties of other communities” (The Times of India, 2024b).


Interview with newspaper 29th April, 2024
7. PM Modi Babasaheb Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution, was against reservation on religious lines, but Congress… stabbed him in the back. Reservation to Muslims was unlawful. It’s an alarm bell for OBC communities of the entire country (Gupta, 2024c)


Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 25th April, 2024
8. PM Modi The Congress manifesto of 2014 talked about religion-based reservations in jobs and education and it is influenced by the Muslim League. If the Congress wins, it will snatch the reservations rights of the OBCs and hand it over to its favourite vote bank (Gupta, 2024c)


Morena, Madhya Pradesh 25th April, 2024
9. PM Modi Nakli(fake) Shiv Sena” hardly cared for Sadhus killed in Palghar, and Congress’s priority was to beautify Yakub Menon’s grave” (Akhef, 2024)


Nanded, Maharashtra 20th April, 2024
10. PM Modi Even listening to Hanuman Chalisa becomes a crime under the party’s governance. Now, you will recite Hanuman Chalisa peacefully and also celebrate Ram Navami. This is BJP’s guarantee”. He alleged that the Congress government in Rajasthan was restricted Ram Navami processions and “protected” those who pelted stones on the processions hinting at the Muslims (Khan, 2024)


Jaipur, Rajasthan 23rd April, 2024
11. Giriraj Singh, Union Minister Congress is scaring people by saying that when their government comes to power, then they will take away the women’s property and even ‘Mangalsutra (ABP Live, 2024)


Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir 25th April, 2024
12. Amit Shah, Union Home Minister They (Congress) have said they will make a separate law for minorities. Tell me, should the country function on the basis of Sharia? Should triple talaq be reintroduced?”


Bemetara, Chhattisgarh 26th April, 2024
13. Amit Shah read the Congress manifesto carefully. They have said they will re-implement the Muslim personal law and triple talaq. You tell me, can this country be run by Sharia (law)? Rahul [Gandhi] baba, do whatever you want to do for appeasement. But as long as the BJP is there, we will not allow [Muslim] personal law to be implemented (Malpani, 2024)


Guna and Rajgrah, Madhya Pradesh 26th April, 2024
14. Yogi Adityanath, C M of UP since 2017, even with a population of 25 crore, there has not been a single riot in the state while curfews were replaced by kanwar yatras, taken out with “dhoom dharaka” (Lalchandani, 2024)


Bhandara, Maharashtra 16th April, 2024
15. Yogi Adityanath In a more direct jab at the Muslims in UP referring to the Darul Uloom Deoband he said, “Pehle har baat per fatwa zari hota tha. Corona vaccine lagvani hai ya nahi, ye bhi fatwa taya karta tha. Humne sare mike hi utarwa diye. Na rahega baans, na bajegi bansuri. (Earlier, fatwas used to be issued on nearly everything. Whether or not one should take the corona vaccine was decided through fatwas. We removed all the loudspeakers (from mosques) and got rid of the problem” (Sharma, 2024)


Kairana and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh 12th April, 2024
16. Yogi Adityanath Referring to reservations to Muslims as “appeasement” of the Congress, he said, This is a part of despicable attempts at Islamisation of India and pushing it towards divisions. When the UPA govt came to power, it made such attempts at that time too. BJP had carried out a massive agitation. So, be it Justice Verma committee report or the Sachar committee report, they were all attempts by Congress to loot the reservation of OBCs, SCs and STs” (The Times of India, 2024c)


New Delhi 26th April, 2024
17. Mangal Prabhat Lodha (Guardian Minister of Mumbai) Lodha’s spokesperson said, “The minister asked police to safeguard the family. This tragic incident is reminiscent of the Shraddha Walkar case and has deeply saddened everyone.” Taking stringent action against illegal Bangladeshi and Rohingya immigrants is imperative to safeguard the women in our city, he said. Mangal Prabhat Lodha said that due to increasing Bangladeshi and Rohingya infiltrations, unauthorised construction on govt land has surged (The Times of India, 2024d) Mumbai, Maharashtra 29th April, 2024


The prevalence of hate speeches as a form of violence aimed at demonizing Muslims is evident from recent incidents. It has become a weapon wielded not only by Prime Minister Modi and union ministers but also highlighted the enabling role of law and order machinery in failing to curb this menace. Opposition parties have repeatedly raised concerns before the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding unchecked hate speeches by Prime Minister Modi, describing them as divisive, objectionable, and malicious. They criticized Modi for making blatantly defamatory, false, and unverified allegations (C G, 2024). For his speech in Rajasthan, Congress petitioned to the ECI, that the PM be “disqualified” for egregious violations of election laws in his speech in Rajasthan. An AICC delegation of Abhishek Singhvi, Gurdeep Sappal and Supriya Shrinate, which met the ECI for detailed discussions, said “not just the PM, but the Election Commission is on trial”, adding that ECI’s past “inaction” has emboldened BJP and Modi to commit repeat offences.

Interestingly, while the ECI issued a notice to Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena for using religiously loaded phrases like “Jai Bhavani Jai Shivaji” in their campaign, Mr. Thackeray defiantly refused to remove them, insisting they hold cultural significance. He pointed out the ECI’s selective action, citing instances from BJP campaigns where PM Modi used phrases like “Jai Bajrang Bali” during elections in Karnataka. Thackeray urged the EC to apply consistent standards, referencing Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s appeal to voters with promises related to Ram Lalla in Ayodhya. However, there were some instances where action was taken. Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya was booked for violation of the election code of conduct and “seeking votes” in the name of the religion.

The role of the judiciary in India has always been crucial in social and political matters. The judiciary is expected to act as effective agency of checks and balance. However, the judiciary hasn’t acted decisively regarding the hate speeches. In response to a petition seeking FIRs against three MLAs—Nitesh Rane, Geeta Jain and Telangana’s T Raja Singh—for hate speeches during and after the communal clashes in Mira Road, a suburb of Mumbai, in January 2024 and seeking a restraint on Ram Navami rallies, the Bombay High Court said while it cannot stop a public rally from being held on Ram Navami in Malwani, which has a large minority community population, it is up to state police officers to take appropriate action in case of any violation of the law, irrespective of which political parties the speakers at such rallies belong to. The petitioner had raised an apprehension of “untoward incidents” if the Ram Navami rally in Malwani goes through pockets with a large minority community population (The Times of India, 2024e). This directive comes on the heels of the relentless and immensely polarizing and hate filled hate speeches by BJP leaders like Nitesh Rane and T Raja in the past few months in Mumbai.

Symbolic Violence:

Reclaiming” of Heritage:

The disturbing trend of Hindu right wing claiming that mosques or dargahs were formerly temples or places of significance in Hindu mythology continues in the month of April 2024. Two major sites are being contested- one is the Gyanvapi mosque and the other is the Bhojshala complex. In the Gyanvapi mosque, Supreme Court declined to interfere with a Varanasi court’s order allowing a priest nominated by the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust to conduct daily puja at ‘Vyas Ji Ka Tehkhana’ inside Gyanvapi mosque’s cellar and said Muslims would continue to offer namaz as usual inside the mosque. Thus, the SC has directed status quo to be maintained till the final decision. It is worth noting that there is a big temple adjacent to the mosque where Hindus have been worshiping for centuries. The Muslims in the case argued that this is an attempt akin to the Babri Masjid to encroach of a waqf property (Mahapatra, 2024).

Similarly, in the Bhojshala complex, the Hindu applicants in the case claimed that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during its survey ordered by the SC has discovered a basement and a staircase. The digging first revealed some steps and further excavation suggested that there was a basement, Gopal Sharma convenor of Bhojshala Mukti Andolan and a Hindu representative accompanying the ASI team said (Jauhri, 2024).

In Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, a similar situation is unfolding where Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and ‘Pandav Wada Sangharsh Samiti’ claim that the mosque in the Erandol Taluka was originally Pandav Wada where Pandav spent a few years of exile in Erndol area. After the site was disputed, the matter reached the Supreme Court which passed an order that the keys to the mosque would remain with the Municipal Council. SC also directed the Municipal Council to appoint an officer to open the mosque shortly before starting namaz in the mornings. This officer will keep the mosque open till Namaz is over. There will be no restrictions on other people entering or leaving the temples or memorials on the premises. People of all religions will be allowed to visit without any hassles.

Structural Violence:

Narrative of Love Jihad:

In Kerala, Govt. owned TV channel the Doordarshan decided to broadcast the controversial Hindi film ‘The Kerala Story’, which portrays the Muslim community as conspiring to entice non-Muslim women into matrimonial relations in order to augment their numbers. The claims in the film are grossly exaggerated and unsubstantiated in order to demonise the community. The Congress leaders in the state have raised objections with the Election Commission, condemning Doordarshan’s decision as a “tacit effort” to divide society along religious lines to favor the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI(M), had announced plans to organize a protest march to the Doordarshan office in Kerala’s capital city. Interestingly, the Idukki diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church screened ‘The Kerala Story’ for catechism students in Classes 10 to 12 as part of a vacation course held in diocese parishes. In Kerala, the film is used for demonizing the Muslims and the BJP is using state agencies to promote the film and its message. Similarly, in Karnataka, the BJP has been stirring up the narrative of love jihad after the murder of Neha Hiremath, a 23 years old student, allegedly killed by her former boyfriend, Fayaz. The BJP has given the murder a communal spin and blaming the Congress for the alleged lack of safety of Hindu women.

Education and Narrative Setting:

The NCERT’s revision of its Class XII political science textbook for the academic year 2024-25 has sparked controversy by removing references in three places to the demolition of the Babri Masjid while emphasizing the significance of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in its class XII political science textbook. The original section discussed the mobilization during the movement, ensuing communal violence, and the demolition itself, highlighting its profound impact on India’s political landscape. Critics argue that these changes attempt to erase a crucial historical event and its implications in shaping the country’s political trajectory (The Wire, 2024).

In Mumbai, the Education Department had requisitioned four out of eight rooms for English medium students at the BMC Yaksar Urdu Medium School in Borivali (West). The move could potentially force the Urdu medium middle session school to operate in the afternoon session, posing challenges for students, parents, and staff. The decision to allocate rooms to English medium students comes against the backdrop of increasing enrolment in English medium education and structural concerns within the school building where due to a collapsed roof, some classrooms are rendered useless and thus classrooms where Urdu and Marathi medium students were taught are requisitioned for the English medium students (Clarion India, 2024).

Criminalization of Muslims over offering Namaz in open spaces:

In recent times, there has been a concerning trend of criminalizing Muslims for praying in public spaces, especially when congregational prayers spill over onto roads or other open areas due to lack of space. Although this practice is not illegal, Muslims often face penalties for it. On April 14th, around 250 unidentified individuals were charged by the Uttar Pradesh police in Meerut and Budaun for allegedly performing ‘namaz’ on roads during Eid. In Meerut, cases were filed against 200 unidentified persons by the Railway Road police, while in Budaun, 16 identified and 34 unidentified individuals were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 143, 186, 188, 243, and 341. According to police, ‘namaz’ was observed at Shahi Eidgah in their respective districts. Despite the imposition of section 144, many devotees opted to pray on the road disrupting traffic (The Times of India, 2024f).

Allegations of Human Trafficking:

The inane laws are instrumentalized to criminalize Muslims. One such instance was apprehending five Muslim men. The children were from various districts of Bihar, including Araria and Purnia, and some were returning to a madrasa in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh after their Eid holidays. A bus carrying 95 boys, aged between four and 14 years, from Bihar was intercepted by Ayodhya district administration officials on 26th April after receiving information of alleged human trafficking. Subsequently, local Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and police detained the bus around 12.30 pm on 26th April on the Ayodhya highway and took the boys to a government-run children’s house in Lucknow (Sahu, 2024).

Instrumentalization of Anti- Cow Slaughter Acts:

In Vadodara, Gujarat, seven men have been arrested so far, including the shop owner of ‘Hussaini Samosa’. The mutton samosas sold at the shop were allegedly stuffed with cheaper beef to earn profits. The Vadodara crime branch seized a total of 113 kg of beef as well as 152 kg of the filling prepared to make the samosas from the popular ‘Hussaini Samosa’ suppliers. Six people, including owners Yusuf Sheikh and Naeem Sheikh, as well as employees Hanif Bhathiyara, Dilawar Pathan, Moin Habdal and Mobin Shaikh were arrested (The Indian Express, 2024).

Physical Violence:                                        

Communal Riots

On 17th April, 2024, on the occasion of Ram Navami, communal riots took place in Murshidabad, West Bengal. At least 20 people were injured and one woman sustained serious injuries allegedly from stone-pelting during a Ram Navami procession in the Rejinagar area of Murshidabad. There were reports of a crude bomb going off as the procession was about to conclude. However, the police did not confirm. Violence purportedly broke out after miscreants pelted stones from the roof of a house. The BJP and TMC both parties are blaming each other for the violence (Kumari, 2024). The past few years in West Bengal have witnessed communal riots and huge mobilization by Hindu right wing and BJP.

On Ram Navami, 17th April, communal riots also took place in Jharkhand’s Palamu district. Communal riots took place in Kajru village when Muslims in the village opposed the procession from passing through the mosque. They argued that the Ram Navami procession in so many years had never passed through the mosque. Around five two-wheelers were damaged in the clash. Five members from each of the group were apprehended by the police. Additional forces were deployed for controlling tensions (Deccan Herald, 2024).

Hate Crimes:

In an incident in Bengaluru, three persons were allegedly assaulted for raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans on Ram Navami, 17th April, 2024. Farman and Sameer along with two minors and assaulted them. Those attacked were carrying saffron flags and were shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. The accused are booked under IPC sections 295A, 298, 143, 147, 504, 324, 326, 506 and 149 (The Times of India, 2024g).

In Nuh, Haryana, on 7th April, 2024 the infamous Bittu Bajrangi, known for perpetrating violence against Muslims under the pretext of cow vigilantism, was seen on a video beating up one Shyamu whom he mistook to be Muslim. The survivor explained that he was taking a girl to buy chocolates when he was picked up by some men and taken to Bajrangi’s house. Bajrangi thrashed him and threatened to kill him on camera. A policeman is seen in the video being a spectator. The police claim he is suspended for inaction. A FIR is filed against Bajrangi and his accomplices under Indian Penal Code section 323 (causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).  (The Hindu, 2024 a).

In an incident in Pune, on 7th April, 2024 on the campus of Savitribai Phule Pune University, a nineteen years old student was physically assaulted by a group of students. The group demanded to know the name of the survivor and wanted to check his Adhar card. The survivor was walking on the campus with his friends after lunch when they were accosted. “Are you a Muslim? Have you come here to do love jihad?” one of the strangers allegedly asked the 19-year-old first year student of SPPU. The group slapped the survivor and threatened to kill him. Police have invoked IPC sections related to rioting, criminal intimidation and physical assault (Shrivastava, 2024).

In Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh, on the day of Ram Navami, 17th April, 2024 one Abhay Alias Murgi climbed platform of Muslim community and tried to hoist a religious flag during Ram Navami procession on 17th April. He was apprehended by the police who brought him down. While the Ram Navami procession was passing through “Imam chowk”, Abhay climbed the platform to hoist the flag, which he said was due to the instigation of his three friends who lured him into doing so by giving him INR 100 (The Times of India, 2024h).


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