India's Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Gujarat unit's tweet of a cartoon depicting a group of Muslim men being hanged was taken down by Twitter on Sunday for violating community guidelines.
The offensive caricature was uploaded on Friday in the wake of a court verdict that sentenced 38 people to death in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts case. The accused were alleged members of a group called 'Indian Mujahideen'.
The background of the image showcased the tri-coloured flag of India and an illustration of the Ahmedabad blast.
The BJP Gujarat unit tweeted the image with the caption: “Satyamev Jayate [Truth alone triumphs]. No mercy to the perpetrators of terror.”
While the tweet has been taken down from the micro-blogging site for violating the platform’s rules on hateful imagery, several posts featuring the cartoon could be seen on Facebook and Instagram on Monday, and have not been removed.
The image has been reported by several people on the social platform but Facebook stated that the caricature did not violate its community standards.
BJP inciting violence
Twitter users strongly reacted to the anti-Muslim image and called out the ruling BJP for inciting violence in exchange for votes in the upcoming elections.
Users also claimed that the nationalist party will be responsible for communal violence and hate-mongering, which will result in the genocide of minorities.
Another user wrote, "this is a shocking act" and urged the international community to condemn it.
You know exactly what you are doing here— Ian Woolford 🏳️🌈 (@iawoolford) February 20, 2022
You are the official account of the BJP party in Gujarat, and you shared a pro-genocidal message to your 1.5 million followers
This is a shocking act. You have committed a dirty dirty action. It must be condemned around the world
In a statement, Gujarat BJP’s media convenor Yagnesh Dave said that the caricature was made to reflect the media coverage of the report in newspapers and channels. He further mentioned that the cartoon was not meant to "target a specific community" but rather was based on the images of the accused convicts.
In response to the BJP, India's Congress party spokesperson Manish Doshi said: “No party should engage in politics on court judgments in sensitive cases. The BJP seeks to polarise people in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh."
He added that "terrorism has no religion" as Congress lost two former prime ministers to it.
Such depictions of heightened Islamophobia in India came days after a series of religious laws promoted by India's ruling Hindu nationalist party in the southern state of Karnataka were imposed, including a ban on the wearing of hijabs in classrooms.
These laws are raising concerns that divisive measures will stoke sectarian tensions more prevalent in the country's north. The moves have become an issue of contention involving India's Muslim minority.
Opposition parties and many political analysts accuse the BJP of fomenting tensions in Karnataka to consolidate its appeal to majority Hindus as they say it has elsewhere in the country.
'India on path to Muslim genocide'
Calls across India for anti-Muslim violence – even genocide – are moving from the fringes to the mainstream, while Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his top leaders keep silent, warned a recent report published in The New York Times.
"The hate speech is stoking communal tensions in India where small triggers have incited mass-death tragedies," the report written by a team of Times’ reporters said, pointing out that Hindu monks’ agenda already resonates with increasingly emboldened vigilante groups.
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