New Delhi: One of India’s top jewellery retailers has withdrawn an advert featuring an interfaith baby shower after a vicious backlash on social media by Hindu hardliners who said it glorified “love jihad”.
Critics of the withdrawal say it reflects the climate of religious intolerance towards ethnic minorities since Indian nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi came to power six years ago.
Tanishq’s advertisement is owned by the giant Tata Group. The advertisement shows a traditional baby baptism organized by a Muslim family for Hindu daughter women.
The owner of Tata comes from the Parsi tribe who follows the Zoroastrian religion.
Tanishq said the idea behind the “Ekatvam” (unity and oneness) collection was to “celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life”.
“We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff,” a statement said late Tuesday.
The NDTV channel reported on Wednesday that a Tanishq store was attacked in Modi’s hometown of Gujarat and the manager was forced to apologize.
The local mayor later denied the report, although he said that police patrols near the exit had increased.
Despite the withdrawal of the ad, #BoycottTanishq is still popular on Twitter, and one user said it was to show off the “Holy War of Love” series.
“Majority of your costumers are Hindu and u are hurting their sentiments. Shame on you,” wrote another user.
“Love jihad” is a recent term coined by Hindu extremists to accuse Muslim men of seducing Hindu women and making them convert — a flashpoint issue in the officially secular country.
In India, which is still very traditional, inter-religious relationships are rare, especially in rural areas where marriages are mostly marriages.
Those who cross the boundaries of caste and religion are often ostracized and sometimes killed, ostensibly to preserve family honor.
As with other similar incidents, as of Wednesday, senior officials of the Modi government did not comment.
“Top leaders (of the ruling party) never come out and condemn these hate campaigns. Because they are totally silent, they seem to be condoning such behaviour,” said political analyst Parsa Venkateshwar Rao.
“This creates an atmosphere of hatred all over,” he told AFP.