Anti-Muslim hate tracker ‘Hindutva Watch’ blocked after Indian government pressure

Hindutva Watch, an independent research group located in the United States that tracks hate crimes against religious minorities in India, has taken down its website following days of restriction warnings from Indian government authorities.

Not only is the website of India Hate Lab unavailable within India, but it is no longer accessible from outside the nation, which is another project devoted to tracking hate speech in the nation solely.

“We received communication from MEITY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) under the IT Act last week regarding the potential blocking of India Hate Lab and Hindutva Watch,” Raqib Hameed Naik, the founder of both projects, told Al Jazeera, referring to India’s Information Technology (IT) Act.

Users in India notified Naik on January 29 that both websites had gone down on several servers, he claimed. “I’m looking into my legal options right now,” Naik continued.

Under section 69A of the contentious IT Act, which gives authorities the authority to bar the public from accessing material on the grounds of India’s “sovereignty, integrity, and security,” the government has been issuing notices for shutting the websites. 

Another section of the IT Act that permitted the government to prosecute people for sending “offensive” messages online was overturned by the Supreme Court of India in 2022. Governments from all political parties used this section to arrest common citizens who expressed their disagreements, including chemistry teachers and cartoonists.

Al Jazeera requested comments from India’s IT ministry but has not heard back as of yet.

In April 2021, Naik, a journalist from Kashmir who has been residing in the US since 2020, founded the Hindutva Watch website. Twelve volunteers from five different nations join him, collaborating across time zones to stay on top of the growing number of hate crimes in India.

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