In poll-bound Gujarat, where the ruling BJP and main opponent Congress are increasingly turning to social media to belittle each other in the countdown to the assembly polls next month, a new video clip has surfaced, one that shows a young girl walking fearfully down a road while what sounds like an azaan (the Muslim call to prayer) plays in the background.
Nobody is owning up the video clip which has been doing the rounds. A human rights lawyer, Govind Parmar of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), has written to Election Commission and Gujarat Police to stop circulation of the video clip, saying it can be used to polarise votes in the state and stoke hatred against Muslims.
The 1.15-minute video clip in Gujarati starts with a line that reads: ‘Gujarat ma sanjhe 7 pachhi avu thai shake chhe’ (This can happen in Gujarat after 7 in the evening). It shows a young girl walking down a road, fearful and in a great hurry. A sound that resembles an azaan plays in the background. Her parents are anxiously waiting for her at home. In the background is an idol of Lord Krishna. When she reaches home, the girl frantically rings the door bell. Her mother opens the door and the girl hugs her while her father pats her on the head.
The girl’s mother then faces the camera: “Ek minute, kem navai lagi ne ke aa Gujarat ni vaat chhe?” (One minute, why are you surprised to see that this is happening in Gujarat?). And then it is the father’s turn: “Bavis varsh pehla pan avu j thatu hatu. Ane avu thai shake chhe. Jo e loko avshe to.” (Twenty two years ago, this used to happen. And it can happen if those people come)
The girl then says, “Pan don’t worry. Koi nai ave. Kemke ahi Modi chhe.” (But don’t worry. Nobody will come. Because Modi is here). The clip ends with a saffron line in Gujarati: ‘Apno Vote, Apni Suraksha’ (Our Vote, Our Security).
Advocate Parmar, who has complained to Election Commission and Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch, has asked them to stop circulation of the video and take legal action against the persons shown in the clip and its producers.
“It is clear that the intention of the video is to spread a feeling of fear of Muslims among the majority community members. It has been made to spread hatred towards Muslims, and for polarisation of votes which is an offence,” Parmar said.
He told The Indian Express: “I have sent my complaint to the Election Commission and Crime Branch through registered post with acknowledgment due. I have also sent it via email to Election Commission.” When his comment was sought, Additional Chief Electoral Officer L P Padaliya said: “(So far) we have not got any complaint in this matter.”
Gujarat Congress IT cell chief Rohan Gupta said: “We are not naming any party for this (video clip), but I personally think that this could be a surrogate campaign of the BJP as the only party that can benefit from it is the BJP.” The Congress IT cell has launched a social media campaign called ‘Gujarat ne daravsho nahi’ (Do not frighten Gujarat).
Pankaj Shukla of Gujarat BJP’s social media cell, however, denied that his party had anything to do with the video clip. “We do not know who has made the video. We have not done it. There are so many well-wishers of the BJP who must have turned their feelings into a video.”