OpEd// Muslims in India have always had an uneasy relationship with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu voluntary organization. The RSS has often been blamed by Muslims and sections of Indian media for fanning hatred against Islam and the Muslims.
In an OpEd shared with the EurAsian Times, written by Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar and published in the Pakistan Tribune claims how a section of Indian Media, RSS and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party along with their business affiliations have fanned hatred against Muslims in the Middle East.
The OpEd claims that the smear campaign began after the CAA and NRC protests and gained impetus after the Tableeghi Jamaat, an Islamic organization, congregation emerged as the super spreader of coronavirus in India.
It also said that the Indian community working in the Gulf region promoted hate speeches and even went to the extent of blaspheming Islam and even the Prophet.
The OpED cites an article published in Gulf News on April 13 titled “COVID 19: And now it is ‘Corona Jihad’ in Modi’s hate-filled new India” by Swati Chaturvedi which underlined how India was communalizing the coronavirus at a time when the world was ravaged by the pandemic.
The OpEd asserts that the ruling BJP Government had published separate figures for people infected by Tableeghi Jamaat congregation and mentions that the BJP Government received flak from the World Health Organization (WHO) for communalizing the issue.
The OpEd also accused BJP’s Muslim leaders of promoting the hate narrative, like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who had stated — “The Tablighi Jamaat committed a “Talibani crime” by allowing gatherings at its Nizammudin center in the capital and encouraging members to travel across the country when India was trying to contain the spread of Covid-19.”
Also according to a Gulf News report of 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 is not alone; there are many Indian expats who have spread anti-Muslim hatred claims the OpEd. Some weeks back, 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”.
The OpED further claims — while many in the Arab Gulf region may be unaware of the RSS, the Hindu organization has spread its tentacles in the Arab world through business and Bollywood. As reported by Business Today in August 2018, another Indian expat and billionaire — BR Shetty who had expanded his business empire in the UAE through a healthcare system called NMC Health had reportedly embezzled billions of dollars and had escaped to India to avoid legal action in the Gulf.
According to Arabian Business magazine, a report by Carson Block of Muddy Waters Research had exposed the fraudulent transactions which had resulted in NMC’s shares being suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange. BR Shetty had also promised to invest in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign claims the author.
Abdul Majid Zargar a regular contributor for Kashmiri and international newspapers had spoken about the RSS ties to the Gulf in his article published in Kashmir Watch magazine 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 Maharashtrians, 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 jewelry 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.
It is also said that every year, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat holds a closed-door meeting with all of these Hindu business tycoons operating in Dubai, UAE, and other Middle East countries at nondescript places beyond the media glare where the businessmen are believed to be instructed on how to further spread RSS’ agenda.
According to Amir Ali a professor at Jawaharlal National University, who spoke to Times.com, Islamophobia has been transposed onto the coronavirus issue. As EurAsian Times had earlier reported, even as the details about the Tabligh Jammat congregation were emerging #CoronaJihad, #NizamuddinIdiots, #Covid-786 began trending. #CoronaJihad was shared 300,000 times and potentially seen by 165 million people on Twitter as per the data shared by Equality Labs with Time.com.
#CoronaJihad tweets had falsely shown a Muslim man from Delhi intentionally coughing on somebody when in fact the video was shot in Thailand. However, that did not stop some from labeling Muslims as ‘vile minded people’ and referring to the virus as #TabighiJamaatVirus.
Another video purportedly showing Muslims intentionally sneezing on another was debunked by AltNews as reported by Times.com. Memes showing China as the producer and Muslims as the distributors have also surfaced.
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.
OpEd: Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar. Published in the Pakistan Tribune.