The Hindustan Times has taken down its “Hate Tracker” project, which recorded acts of violence based on religion, caste, ethnicity and gender. The URL of the project, which was one of the flagship initiatives of former editor-in-chief Bobby Ghosh, now leads to a webpage saying, “Oops! We cannot find the page you are looking for.” The feature has been taken down just days after a change of leadership at the newspaper, with Ghosh being replaced by former Mint editor Sukumar Ranganathan. The new editor took charge of the newsroom on October 23.
The Hate Tracker prompted a great deal of commentary and criticism online after it was launched in July 2017. An article written by journalist Niha Masih introducing the project is still up on the Hindustan Times website. “There is a dearth of information about the power and influence of hate,” Masih wrote. “That makes it impossible to know the extent of the problem.” She wrote that there was no national database of hate crimes, so the newspaper was hoping to fill that void with the Hate Tracker.
The tracker curated incidents from around the country, listing out hate-based violence such as lynchings connected to cow protection, and had been updated as recently as September.
The project was criticised on social media for being selective in its choice of incidents to count as hate-based violence.
The website gives no reason for why the tracker is down, and both the article introducing it as well as a video about the hate tracker are still available. Reports have suggested that the departure of Ghosh, who only took over as editor-in-chief in 2016, might have been connected to the criticism over projects like the Tracker and others. However, HT Media Chairperson Shobana Bhartia, in an email to staff, said earlier that Ghosh would be moving to New York for personal reasons.
Questions regarding the taking down of the Hate Tracker as well as whether it is connected to Ghosh’s departure have been sent to new Hindustan Times editor-in-chief Sukumar Ranganathan. The story will be updated if and when Ranganthan responds.