While the entire world is busy fighting the coronavirus, Indian mainstream media as well as factions in the RSS and the BJP continue playing the hate card against the 200 million-strong Muslim community in India. This hate campaign against Muslims spread from mainland India to North America and Europe as well as into the Gulf, where almost five million Indians work and remit billions of dollars to their impoverished families back home.
While this sinister campaign was already going on during protests against the Muslims-centric National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), it picked up momentum after the Tableeghi Jamaat in India – and thereby, the Muslim community – was singled out as the main cause of the spread of the coronavirus in the country. Indian diaspora working in the Arab Gulf states started fanning the hate speech and went to the extent of blaspheming Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
An article published in Gulf Newson April 13 under the title “COVID 19: And now it is ‘Corona Jihad’ in Modi’s hate-filled new India”, Swati Chaturvedi highlighted that in contrast to the entire world struggling with the pandemic, India is communalising the coronavirus crises. Actually, the BJP government was publishing separate figures for the infection caused by Tableeghi Jamaat and by the rest of India. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) ticked India for communalising the narrative. Some Sarkari Muslamansin India also served to promote the hate narrative, like BJP’s Muslim showboy Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said, “The Tableeghi Jamaat spread of virus is a Talibani crime not negligence.”
It is unfortunate that such communal stigmatising of the Indian Muslim community – sponsored and proliferated by the RSS/BJP leadership as well as the mainstream Godi media – has transformed into hate crime against Muslims. The RSS has unleashed its goons against Muslims, many of whom have been lynched brutally. A number of Muslim families had to take shelter in a river bed. Chaturvedi mentions that Muslims across India are bearing the brunt of these communally-charged statements as the Panna Pramukh television channels are now acting as force multipliers using incendiary headers like ‘Corona Jihad’.
As mentioned earlier, the hate train run by the RSS in India found some eager passengers in the Gulf region as well. According to a Gulf Newsreport on April 9, Rakesh B Kitturmath, an Indian working as a team leader at Emrill Services in Dubai, is facing police action after being fired for blaspheming Islam on social media. Kitturmath joins an ever-growing list of Indian expats who have landed in trouble during recent days for Islamophobic messages. Last week, Mitesh Udeshi, an Abu Dhabi resident, was sacked for posting a sacrilegious cartoon about Islam on his Facebook page while a police complaint was filed against Sameer Bhandari of Future Visions Events & Weddings in Dubai after he asked a Muslim job-seeker from India to “go back to Pakistan”.
While many in the Arab Gulf region may not know, RSS cadres have spread their wings in the Arab world through business and Bollywood. As reported by Business Todayin August 2018, an old Jan Sangh member, BR Shetty, had expanded his business empire in the UAE through a healthcare system called NMC Health. Jan Sangh was the predecessor of the RSS and the BJP and supported Hindutva ideology. More recently, BR Shetty – who has reportedly defrauded billions of dollars through the fake and deceptive system – has landed back in India to avoid legal action in the Gulf. As reported by Arabian Businessmagazine on March 19, Carson Block of Muddy Waters Research wrote a damning report accusing NMC Health of fraudulent asset values and theft of company assets. In a matter of just three months, NMC’s shares were suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange and two weeks ago it announced that its debt levels have risen to nearly $5 billion, with over $2.7 billion in facilities that had not been disclosed to or approved by the board.
BR Shetty has also been in the forefront of support for Modi’s election campaign and pledged to invest billions of dollars on Modi’s Nazi agenda in Occupied Kashmir and building a film city, despite knowing full well that Occupied Kashmir is an internationally-recognised dispute territory.
RSS cadres and tycoons working in the Gulf region have always followed the agenda of hate against Muslims. There is nothing new in that. Abdul Majid Zargar has been regularly writing for Kashmiri and international newspapers. He had exposed the RSS nexus in the Gulf in his article published in Kashmir Watchmagazine in 2018. Extracts from the article are posted in the succeeding paragraphs:
Business and service sectors are dominated by nationalist Hindus based in oil-rich Gulf countries. Most of them are South Indians, Gujaratis and Mahrashtrians, including BR Shetty, the Managing Director of the UAE-based NMC group of companies; Sudhir Kumar Shetty, the President of UAE Exchange; N Balakrishna, the Chairman & Managing Director of Prakurti Nest Builders, a company dealing in real estate business. Furthermore, the jewellery and diamond trade in the whole Middle East is controlled by Gujarati Hindus. These are the same people who form the backbone of the RSS and its tributaries which have spread their tentacles in these countries with the overt and covert support of these nationalist Hindus and are continuously on the lookout for shoring up their presence there.
Every year, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat holds a closed-door meeting with these Hindu business tycoons operating in Dubai, UAE and other Middle East countries. Such meetings are held at unsuspecting and nondescript places beyond the media glare. For instance, in 2016 such meeting was held at Thantra Vidya Peetham at Aluva, near Kochi, Kerala. Besides the above-named business tycoons, Managing Director of JR Aero Liink, Dubai Anil Pillai; CEO of UAE Exchange Pramod Mangat and Chief Operating Officer of NMC group Prasant Mangat attended these meetings taking instructions from the RSS chief. These instructions mainly pertain to finances, recruitment and furtherance of the RSS agenda in their respective places of work.
The RSS holds regular shakhas– Hindu theological classes – in at least five countries in the Middle East. In places where outdoor shakhasare not permitted, these are held at homes of prominent workers with signature uniform comprising black pant and white shirt. It needs to be mentioned here that to conceal its identity, these dubious groups assume different names overseas. In some places, it is Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and in a few others Hindu Seva Samiti. In Dubai, it has another branch by the name of Indian People’s Forum. Since 2014, this forum has even been getting regular support from the Indian consulate general.
While the RSS has been using the cover of business and Bollywood in the Gulf region, Covid-19 has somehow exposed its nefarious designs as well as anti- Muslim sentiment in the Arab world.
The writers are freelance journalists and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org