When a mob lynches a Muslim man on the suspicion of possessing beef, it is recorded as a murder. When a North-Eastern or African student is verbally abused, it is recorded as an obscene act. When a gay man is beaten because of the way he looks and acts, it is recorded as an assault.
In all these situations, violence or abuse may be punished, but bigotry is not. Part of the problem is lack of laws dealing with hate crimes. The closest thing in the Indian legal system is The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which criminalises a range of activities prejudicial to Dalits and members of scheduled tribes.
As a result, there is a dearth of information about the power and influence of hate. That makes it impossible to know the extent of the problem. There is no national database of hate crimes.
Hindustan Times intends to fill this void. Today we are launching a webpage that will track acts of violence, threats of violence, and incitements to violence based on religion, caste, race, ethnicity, region of origin, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Our project relies on international standards to determine what counts as a hate crime. These criteria include, for example, the victim’s religion, appearance and the offender’s possible use of slurs. The figures and descriptions of the list on this page are drawn from news stories in the English-language press and reports from civil society organizations. But these sources are not adequate on their own.
We’re asking you, our reader, to send us pieces you spot in news, to share your own stories, and to give us more details of cases we’ve already listed. To make our database comprehensive, and to understand the scope of hate, we need your help.
Click on the Hate Tracker to visit the database and get involved.