Telangana Hate Crimes: a closer look as Election Day approaches 

Minorities in Telangana face threats, attacks, hate speech over the year as electoral campaigns by various parties continue. The report, brought together by Citizen for Justice and Peace's Nafrat Ka Naqsha, highlights the hate that has been spreading throughout the state. 
Representation Image | Courtesy: DNA

From references to the rule under Bharath Rashtra Samithi (BRS) as being ruled by “Razakars”, to fielding candidates who have suggested ‘surgical-strikes’ on the old city (of Hyderabad), Telangana has witnessed a campaign peppered with hate over the whole year. Who are the main players in this hate campaign, who are the affected people, and what are the real life results of hate is what this report seeks to highlight.

‘Save Telangana from Modern-Day Razakar’s,’ proclaimed Home Minister for the Union Government, Amit Shah in his speech at Adilabad on October 10, 2023, reported the Deccan Herald. Shah sounded the hate bugle so to say for the Telangana state assembly campaign. He then brought up the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, “The Congress government had earlier dragged the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. However, PM Modi took the initiative to construct the shrine and the grand temple will be ready by January, 2024.”

While it comes as no surprise that the BJP has spearheaded this communal campaign, like most of their other campaigns other electoral forays, in Telangana. Statements drawing analogies with the Razakars, Nizam etc., have peppered the speeches of leaders big and small, from office-bearers of the party who hold ministerial positions, to the union home minister himself, to the member’s one of their student wing, BJYM.

As the Telangana elections draw close, with polling day on November 30, and Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s (BRS) K Chandrasekhar Rao’s, often referred to as KCR, current term ends, how has the state fared on the harmony quotient this year?

Only days before, news surfaced of the alleged use of paper containing “Quranic verses” in firecrackers after some people discovered it. Following this, on October 23, the Musheerabad police lodged a complaint against a fireworks manufacturer for causing offense to religious sentiments. The firecrackers were from a local vendor who was operating a stall in front of Musheerabad’s Ek Minar Masjid whereas the cracker producer is reportedly based in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. The complainant has demanded strict action against the two.

The upcoming elections appears to be a tripartite fight between the BRS, Indian National Congress with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) only a distant third. KCR has held the post since 2014 and carries the legacy of having led the Telangana movement over the years.

According to the Frontline Magazine, different motives drive the three main players in the state. The INC fights for survival or revival (in undivided Andhra Pradesh it has held power for significant numbers of years) and retain the seats it had garnered in earlier polls; for the BJP has which previously had only 3 seats, the party wishes to make a broader entry in the state in the assembly that currently holds 119 members. The party’s strategy in revoking the suspension of venom spitting MLA T Raja Singh last Sunday, just before he was re-nominated to fight the election from Ghoshamahal, Hyderabad, makes its unprincipled stand on communal harmony starkly clear; Singh with a poor track record on hate speech –being jailed for it too—now also faces a complaint lodged against him with the Election Commission (ECI).

Has the ongoing campaign been devoid of hate?

While the ruling party KCR has been accused by opposition leaders to be practising ‘soft-Hindutva’, KCR, the chief minister of Telangana, has been a strident critic of both the INC and the BJP over the years. While the BRS supremo has criticised the BJP for being communal and has even spoke out against the ‘cancer of communalism’ in  2022 yet, at the same time, his critics assert that the leader has not done enough for instance in the case of sanctioning notorious BJP MLA T Raja Singh.

Apart from the ‘modern-Razakars’, comment by India’s home minister made in October 2023[1], the start of 2023 itself records the Home Minister to have made another seemingly polarising speech. As early as April 2023, Shah spoke of removing reservations from Muslims if BJP were to be elected, saying, “In the two-bedroom kitchen hall scheme too, they (KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi) brought in reservation for minorities, this is anti-constitutional. Muslim reservation was brought in (the field of) education. They also said many other things. I am saying this here, when there is a BJP government here, we will end this anti-constitutional Muslim reservation. This right is of Telangana’s SC, ST and OBC. They will get this right and Muslim reservation, we will end. We will put an end to Muslim reservations in educational institutions. Quotas are the constitutional right of Dalits, tribals and backward castes and we will ensure they benefit.” “His speech followed close on the steps taken by Basavaraj Bommai led BJP government in Karnataka in April. Karnataka went to the polls in May 2023 and it was on the eve of elections that this announcement had been made there. Shah followed this decision by referring to the issue in neighbouring Telangana.

On May 14, the ‘Hindu Ekta Yatra’ took place in Karimnagar, where it was spearheaded by Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was a notable guest at the event and flew in to attend the rally.

The Assam Chief Minister, who currently has a case of Hate Speech pending against him, also made the following statements in Karimnagar, Telangana, “We’re working to stop love jihad in Assam, and we’re also working towards closing down Madrasas in Assam. After I became CM, I closed 600 Madrassas in Assam, and I want to tell Owaisi that I will close 300 more Madrassas this year.” According to, speeches delivered by both Himanta Sarma and Bandi Sanjay Kumar Bandi revolved predominantly around topics such as ‘love jihad’, Owaisi, and Razakar makes it seem that that the BJP leaders are intent on using certain incendiary arguments and conspiracy stories to ignite communal sentiment. Like Raja Singh, BJP has fielded Bandi from the constituency of Karimnagar. Bandi is said to be a main player in the party’s elections. In August 2023 too he made targeted speech, in the presence of the Home Minister, where he asserted that “Ram Rajyam and Modi Rajyam were inevitable.”

According to The News Minute, Sanjay is renowned for a hard-line Hindutva approach, and he rose to the fore in 2020 when he said that the old city of Hyderabad should be struck with ‘surgical strikes,’ to remove Rohingya. A complaint against Sanjay Bandi, for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has also been filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace. (CJP).

Similarly, BJP’s Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) President Nitin Nandkar too gave a hate speech which was seemed to be targeted against Muslims in April, 2023, saying, “Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, RSS and other organisations are active when it comes to protecting cows. We did it yesterday, we will do it today and certainly do it tomorrow. Nobody can stop us and no one can prevent us.”

T Raja Singh: BJP’s notorious player

The BJP on October 23, reinstated MLA of Ghoshamahal constituency in Hyderabad T Raja Singh after his suspension from the party last year. His suspension came instantly after he made controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammed during the time the former BJP spokesperson made derogatory statements. Singh was recently in the news this month for sending letters to Garba event organisers with a warning to Hindutva groups to remain vigilant against individuals who were not Hindu. He has advocated for Hindu-only garba events, citing the supposed bogey of ‘Love Jihad’ being a threat to the safety of Hindu girls.

In the letter, Singh also stated that all event staff, including DJs, caterers, bouncers, musicians, and lighting personnel, must belong to the Hindu community and should not be allowed near the Garba pandals. Shortly after this on Monday, October 18, a commotion reportedly erupted at a Garba event in Hyderabad where reports suggest that the Bajrang Dal raised an issue when allegedly a Muslim man attended the annual Navkar Navratri Utsav at the Begumpet Hockey Stadium in Hyderabad. They argued that he was trying to do ‘love-jihad.’’ In a post on that incident, BJP’s legal cell member, Advocate Neelam Bhargava Ram, even referenced T Raja Singh in a statement regarding the incident.

However, the veracity of the events as claimed by these organisations are also put in question as, according to reports, the man confronted by the mob was allegedly handed over to the police. However, the Begumpet police station had said that no such individual had been handed over to them.

Singh and Kumar held to account 

On October 17, Citizens for Justice and Peace filed complaints with both the Election Commission of India and the Telangana State Election Commission concerning a controversial election speech delivered by BJP’s national general secretary, Bandi Sanjay Kumar. This speech, delivered on October 10 in the Adilabad district of Hyderabad, contained remarks that were deemed inflammatory and promoting violence along communal lines. He made these statements during his address at the Jana Garjana Sabha, where he declared, “Modi’s rule must come to Telangana so that those responsible for attacking Hindu society and causing havoc in Bhainsa, along with individuals associated with AIMIM who committed crimes against minors, are exposed and pursued through the streets.” In a disturbing turn, he also invoked memories of past riots, suggesting actions against those in Pakistan who don’t chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai,’ saying, “Those who raise Pakistan flags instead of uttering ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ should face encounters and be buried in Pakistan.”

Furthermore, CJP had approached the Election Commission of India and the Telangana State Election Commission on October 25 regarding BJP MLA Tiger Raja Singh’s conduct. CJP has highlighted his hate-filled speeches delivered by Singh during the Garba festivities in Gujarat which were explicitly aimed at inciting discord, spreading false information, propagating conspiracy theories, and promoting violence against religious minorities. CJP has urged the authorities to initiate the actions against T Raja Singh arguing that such actions that involve sowing discord among different communities, endorsing violence, and disseminating false information, clearly violate election laws and the Model Code of Conduct.

Hate crimes in 2023 in Telangana

Numerous reports of instances of targeted violence against Muslims have arisen from Telangana. What is to be of note is that most of these instances are from Hyderabad, which leaves the question what about other regions of the state? There is little data available.

According to The Quint, in May 2023, a mob assaulted, as they chanted ‘Jai Sri Ram’, Muslim man named Imran Ahmed after reportedly an altercation took place between Imran and a gas cylinder delivery boy in Narsapur, which is located in Telangana’s Medak district. Videos of the horrifying incident had gone viral on social media where Imran’s mother and his pregnant sister can also be seen desperately trying to shield him, but were not spared from the violence.

Valdas Mallesh, a BJP leader in the area, spoke to the media at the police station after the incident and asserted that the incident took place because Ahmed had insulted religious sentiment. Following this, the police took action by registering a case against Imran himself under Section 295 (insult to religion) as well as against 10-15 members of the mob under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (threat to cause grievous hurt), and 504 (intentional insult). Imran was let go after two days of his arrest. Imran remained the only one, according to reports, who was taken into custody. According to reports, a BJP councillor was also amongst the people who were booked for the violence.

Similarly, in April 2023, a disturbing instance was reported where three fruit vendors were forced to drink alcohol and beaten up, reportedly, with the involvement of right-wing organisations in Telangana’s Sangareddy district. The vendors were all Muslim.

[1] See Citizens for Justice and Peace’s Nafrat ka Naqsha at CJP’s Nafrat ka Naqsha tracks hate speech across the country. It receives submissions from users, volunteers, monitors social media, submits all these for a rigorous fact-checking process, and then locates these on the map.



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