Indian diaspora concerned over Bulli Bai, Sulli Deals and Haridwar hate assembly

UN also condemns the occurrence of communal hatred against Muslims

Diaspora

January 17, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Indian diaspora concerned over Bulli Bai, Sulli Deals and Haridwar hate assembly

People protesting against the Dharam Sansad organised at Haridwar (Photo: PTI)

The spate of communal events such as the Haridwar Hate Speech assembly, Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai apps have made headlines not just in India, but also attracting global attention. The Indian diaspora is concerned over the rise in overtly Islamophobic speeches and apps and ask the government to take urgent and stringent action against the perpetrators.

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The Indian diaspora has voiced concerns over growing Islamophobia in India in view of recent incidents like Bulli Bai and Sulli Deals apps, targeting Muslim women as well as the Haridwar hate assembly.

The diaspora groups lash out at “the communal hate and the provocative speeches” at Haridwar in a Dharam Sansad or religious meeting and seek immediate arrest of those responsible for calling on people for “gathering weapon” for a genocide called by the speakers at the event against the Muslims.

“Diaspora groups across South Africa, Australia, USA, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Scotland, Finland, and New Zealand, representing Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian communities expressed their rage over the Haridwar Hate Assembly,” said a joint statement issued by a group of 28 organisations of the diaspora located around the world, adding that “the common call of the global Indian diaspora was for the immediate arrest of Yati Narsinghanand and the Dharma Sansad speakers”.

Noted organisations such as Hindus for Human Rights, Worldwide; International Council of Indian Muslims, Worldwide; India Alliance, Europe; Stichting London Story, Europe; Dalit Solidarity Forum, USA; Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations, USA; Indian American Muslim Council, USA; India Solidarity Germany, Germany; The Humanism Project, Australia; Poetic Justice Foundation, Canada and South Asia Solidarity Group, UK have signed the statement.

Between December 17 to December 19, 2021, Yati Narsinghanad, a right-wing religious leader along with a few of his counterparts organised a dharam sansad or a religious parliament where leaders gave provocative speeches against the Muslim minority in the country.

The theme of the event was “Islamic Bharat mein Sanatan ka Bhavishya: Samasya va Samadhan” (The Future of the Sanatan in Islamic India: Problems and Solutions). In the “religious parliament,” people were called upon to gather weapons and keep them ready. In the meeting, that was live-streamed over social media, the “religious” leaders also called for genocide against the Muslims. This event has made headlines in the country and is still one of the top-grossing news across all platforms.

When the news of the speeches at event broke, there were several calls from the opposition parties as well as human rights activists for immediate action against the speakers and several police complaints were lodged. However, despite the complaints and their FIRs (First Information Reports), the police did not act until the intervention by the Supreme Court which was hearing a plea by some activists seeking action against the speakers who made the alleged remarks. It was on January 13, 2022, almost a month later that Waseem Rizvi alias Jitendra Narayan Tyagi who had recently converted into Hinduism and an ex-Chairman of Shia Waqf Board, Uttar Pradesh, one of the speakers at the event, was the first one to be arrested in the case. The organiser of the event, Yati Narsinghanad who was apparently on a hunger strike on account of Tyagi’s arrest wasn’t arrested until January 15.

The diaspora members also expressed their horror over the news of two apps, that targeted Muslim women by running an online ‘auction’ of some notable journalists and activists. Developed over GitHub, an internet host for software development and shared over social media, the apps became viral on social media. However, despite complaints by several of the women named in the apps, the Delhi Police failed to act, say the complainants.

The first app “Sulli Deals” surfaced of the web in July 2021 and a police case was registered within days. However, human rights activists say that the police did not take the case seriously and no investigation was carried out, leading to the app getting viral on social media.

It was only after another similar app, Bulli Bai, was released, again on GitHub, that the first arrest was made and that too by Mumbai Police, which cracked the case within days of Bulli Bai appearing on social media, on January 1. When a case was registered by some of the women whose names figured in the app, the police made its first arrest on January 4 and by the next day, it had arrested two more, including the alleged mastermind, conducting raids across the country.

The activists were prompt to highlight the difference in the approach of both the police forces and perhaps forced the Delhi Police to carry out its own investigation. On January 9, the police made its first arrest in Sulli Deals picking up Aumkareshwar Thakur, the alleged creator of ‘Sulli Deals’.

The apps made global headlines and even forced the United Nations to take up the matter of inciting hatred against minorities. The Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues of UN, Fernand de Varennes, raised his concern over Twitter saying, “#Minority Muslim women in #India are harassed & ‘sold’ in #socialmedia apps, #SulliDeals, a form of #HateSpeech, must be condemned and prosecuted as soon as they occur. All #HumanRights of minorities need to be fully & equally protected.”

The diaspora members are worried about the impact of such incidents on not just image of India, but also the people of Indian origin living overseas, says Kavitha K Pandian, an NRI (Non-Resident of India) based in Richmond, Virginia, US, who is also the founder of Our Village Our Responsibility, an NGO in Tamil Nadu. “Any positive or negative event that happens in India impacts or affects the thought process of the Indian diaspora, as the local communities’ perception gets formulated based on the news that comes out from the homeland. The locals also raise concerns on these events and have discussions with us. It is extremely unfortunate that our own people are venomously discriminating towards citizens of India who have equal rights to live and thrive peacefully,” Pandian tells Media India Group.

She says these kinds of incidents create an image of India being intolerant of a particular community. “These incidents, unfortunately, do inflict fear of the transformation of the image of India in the worst possible way. It all depends on with whom we want to compete. Do we want to compete with the serenity of the actual pillar on which India as a country stands, that is unity in diversity and the beauty of diverse culture, language, cuisine, culture etc or become like other extremist countries? Our ranking in human development index reflects the areas where we have to actually focus to develop instead of enabling hatred,” adds Pandian.

Pandian also says that India has changed since 2014, with increased news of communal hatred a sense of increased hatred among the residents of India is also felt by the diaspora. “Yes, hatred among the general community has increased and I would quote the passing of CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) as a strong indicator of this. In December 2019, the Indian Parliament passed and Modi signed the Citizenship Amendment Act, which allows for the fast-tracking of citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Critics say the law is discriminatory because it excludes Muslims and applies religion as a criteria for the first time to the question of citizenship,” adds Pandian.

Pandian also says that Hindutva, an extremist right-wing ideology, is hurting the Indian diaspora as well as the residents of India. “Hindutva is an ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of Hindus and the Hindu way of life. It represents Inflicted oppression, strongly insisted on casteism to establish procedure exploitation of shudra (Dalit) community which is modern day OBC, SC and I strongly believe that Hindu scriptures which promotes varnashram have paved way for Hindutva. The casteist events in Cisco USA and also the recent raid by Federal agents on a Hindu temple in Robbinsville, New Jersey, as the temple authorities were accused of exploiting labour of Dalit men who had been lured from India to work for about USD 1 an hour in dreadful work conditions. All these does have a very deep impact on the mindset of the diaspora and in Indians as a whole from the local population point of view,” says Pandian.

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