Hate Hatao, a new app to combat hate crimes

Mumbai: On February 14, a convoy of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber in Pulwama district, Kashmir, killing more than 40 CRPF personnel. This incident has opened flood gates for hate-mongers to spread hate messages across the country, especially against a particular religion.

They have targetted almost all, be it a common man, celebrity or a politician, who have also labelled “liberals” and supporters of secularism as “anti-nationals.” There was also news of some Kashmiri students being assaulted by the right-wing groups in various parts of the country.

Even before the Pulwama terror strike took place, there had been plenty of such cases reported on a daily basis, which some even termed it as “intolerance”. Many a times such hate crimes are recorded, but there are also instances when such cases have never been reported. Now, one can easily report hate crimes with the help of Hate Hatao — a mobile application to it.

Developed by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) led by renowned activist Teesta Setalvad, the Hate Hatao app was launched on January 30, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhiji’s death anniversary. The CJP is human rights movement working for the freedom and constitutional rights of all Indians, mainly focusing on minority rights, freedom of expression, criminal justice reform and child rights.

“Hate speech (and writing), we believe, is an abuse to freedom. It not only disrupts India’s secular, pluralist fabric, but when targeted at marginalised communities, can lead to disastrous consequences, including physical violence of all kinds,” echoed founders of CJP.

The mobile application, which has received a 4.4 (out of five) ratings on playstore has been downloaded by more than 500 citizens. The app not only gives you the news regarding hate crimes, but also enables the user to lodge a complaint if s/he has been subjected to any hate crime or has been a witness to such an incident.

A user can also lodge a complaint against a document/news report /article/social media post, which is full of hatred. A user has to submit his or her contact details and also describe at length as to how they were subjected to any kind of harassment or torture due to hate speech or a written one.

To ensure no bogus complaints are lodged, the app has a mandate in which the complainant will have to upload a photograph or any other proof to substantiate the contention. You can report instances of where you may have been a target of hate, as well as incidents that you may have witnessed. Your identity will not be publicised.

“Once you submit your complaint, CJP’s team will study it, and may contact you to verify relevant details. We then may forward the complaint to the relevant party/parties, which could include the local police and administration, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), social media platforms (Facebook or Twitter), among others,” reads the information in the app.

“You will receive updates on the progress of your complaint. Depending on the seriousness of the complaint, we may even take it to court for filing of a criminal complaint with the police. Your consent for taking the complaint forward is assumed,” the app reads.  Interestingly, during all this, the identity of the complainant will never be made public.

“Unfortunately, hate is widespread in society today. Stay alert, and take note of everything you see, hear, watch and read. Hate speech has no place in a secular democracy like India. The Hate Hatao will become part of the Peace Mapping exercise, which will be among other things, to work towards building bridges between the administration, police and citizens and between local communities,” the app reads.

Having downloaded the app and using it for the last few days, a user Radha Charan Das said, “This is a superb initiative by CJP as such apps are needed at any given time, especially in these trying times, which have started from 2014. This app is a great help to the victims of hate.”

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