Hate speech on WhatsApp against Muslim voters’ mobilisation

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: March 26, 2019

Sabrang’s sister organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has launched an app, Hate Hatao, that enables ordinary citizens to file reports regarding incidents of hate. CJP may then take these forward by contacting relevant organisations, such as the police, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), social media platforms, and others. On Sunday, March 24, CJP received a complaint via Hate Hatao that contained the following text: 

"See Muslims techies are aggressive in ensuing about 100% voting in each Election. There are Muslim techies and religious volunteers to help their community people free of cost. They ensure that even a single voter is not left out of voters list and single vote is not wasted. The video will raise your eye brows. This is how micro management Muslims do to achieve their mission of controlling political power. But lakhs of Hindu voters are wiped out from lists and no Hindu cares. Worry about missing hindu voters of BJP support base. Let us Hindu techies , social, religious people volunteer their service to ensure 100% voting in their locality and "No Exclusion" of BJP's Hindu voters. Build Hindu vote base to control political power."

On following up with the user who filed the complaint, CJP found that this was a message sent on a WhatsApp group focused on a particular neighbourhood in Bengaluru, which is used to post advertisements, announce events, rentals, and the like. The user is a member, and told CJP that messages targeting the Muslim community had increased in the last three to four months on said WhatsApp group. The user told us that he contacted the admin of the WhatsApp, and said that a strict warning has been issued.

A movement to mobilise voters from marginalised communities in the country has been underway, with the makers of the Missing Voters app aiming to ensure that no voter is left behind. Per their research, two crore Muslim voters and four crore Dalit voters are missing from voter lists. Analysis published on Economic and Political Weekly’s Engage platform in March 2018 found that "nearly one quarter of Muslim adults in Karnataka were out of the electoral rolls," and that there was evidence of "non-listing of Muslim electorate in large proportions" in other states as well.

While WhatsApp lacks a central authority to which messages can be reported, CJP thanks the user who alerted us to this message, which is unfortunately but a drop in the ocean of hate speech and provocative, violence-inducing content that is proliferated daily on the app. We call on conscientious citizens to call out such instances whenever they may encounter them, and report incidents of hate to CJP through the Hate Hatao app, which can be downloaded here.