On September 11, the Hate Crime Watch database on the digital portal FactChecker was pulled down. Located at the URL ‘p.factchecker.in’, the database had started in 2014. It tracked religion-based hate crimes across India starting 2009.
The Factchecker database that tracked cow-related violence in India at ‘lynch.factchecker.in’ is also not operational currently. A third database that tracked violence emanating from child lifting rumours has been pulled down too.
A screenshot of the URL lynch.factchecker.in, before and after it was pulled down
Journalist Samar Halarnkar, who was the Editor at IndiaSpend, a sister portal of Factchecker, ended his stint at the outlet on the same day. He confirmed his resignation to Newslaundry.
“Hate Crime Watch and the other two databases will eventually move to a new website. I don’t know when that would be. But we’ll be back,” Halarnkar told Newslaundry.
Halarnkar had previously been the Managing Editor at Hindustan Times.
In a series of tweets, Factchecker said that the Hate Crime Watch tracker is “moving to a new home” and that it is “effectively and immediately” ending its association with the “crucial tool”.
“We believe that #HateCrimeWatch has outgrown its purpose and merits its own standing,” read one of the tweets.
Newslaundry has learnt that the reason for Factchecker calling it quits with the tool is the resource-crunch that the digital portal had been facing lately. Moreover, one of the key members working on the project quit two weeks ago and moved abroad. However, the project might be replicated separately depending on availability of resources. The database had to be erased because the portal believed that its inactive state would distort the data.
Other sources told Newslaundry that Factchecker had also been facing pressure from entities that were funding the website. The portal allegedly succumbed to the pressure and the database was erased.
As of August 31, 2019, the Hate Crime Watch had recorded more than 300 hate crimes in India in its database. The database on cow-related violence had tracked 96 incidents as of September 3, 2019.