In its attempt to make political inroads in Tamil Nadu, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been resorting to its familiar tactic of dividing people on communal lines and promoting hate politics. The latest instance of this sordid practice is the venom-dripping tweet posted by its national secretary H. Raja that tries to convert a murder into a communal issue. In the tweet he refers to the murder of one Arun Prakash, who belonged to the Kallar community, at Vasantham Nagar in Ramanathapuram district on August 31. The tweet, in Tamil, translates as follows: “I strongly condemn the killing of Arun Prakash belonging to Kallar street by Seth (alias) Left Seth and other 10 Muslim religious fanatics. Yogesh, who was also attacked by them has been admitted to hospital in a serious condition.”
Taking a cue from Raja, one Arun Pudur posted his own tweet to which he added three photographs—two from inside a hospital showing the body of Arun Prakash. His tweet read: “Ramanathapuram,TN: Arunkumar was enjoying his Ganesha Procession, what he didn’t know was that peacefuls had a different plan & hacked him to death in broad daylight. No media or any Dravidian party has condemned it. TN is now next Kerala.” He ended it with the hashtag #HindusInDanger. This message was retweeted over 3,600 times and liked over 3,800 times. The verified handles of Raja and Arun Pudur have over 5 lakh followers and 71,000 followers respectively.
What is disturbing observers is the fact that the tweets exist on Twitter despite the police department’s clarification on social media that the murder was the result of previous enmity, which had nothing to do with religion. Varun Kumar, Superintendent of Police, tweeted on September 2 in English: “The police will do an impartial investigation and arrest all the suspects soon. Please do not believe rumours and fake news.” Along with this soft message, he tweeted a cute illustration of people cutting across religions standing hand in hand with the Asoka chakra in the background. He also tweeted a screenshot of a Facebook message in this regard from the Ramanathapuram district police. It said: “The murder of Arun Prakash, which happened on August 31 at Vasantham Nagar in Ramanathapuram district was resultant of previous enmity between two groups. Some people are trying to paint this along religious lines. Those involved in this incident belong to different religions. There is no religion-related issue in this incident. Do not believe those who spread rumours. This murder happened because of individual enmity only. Three special teams have been formed to nab the culprits.” The Ramanathapuram district police have just over 6,000 followers on Twitter.
The extent of media planning that seems to have gone into this communal propaganda is clear from the fact that right-wing publication Organiser ran a fake story on this issue. S.G. Suryah, another verified RSS man with over 58,000 followers, tweeted this fake strory with the message: “Youth who led Vinayakar Chaturthi procession near Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, stabbed to death in broad day light!.” The Organiser ’s lead was this: “In yet another attack on Hindus in Tamil Nadu, a Ganesha devotee has been reportedly hacked to death by Jihadi elements on August 31. Arunkumar, a native of Ramanathapuram is the victim of Jihadi terror spreading across Tamil Nadu.”
At the time of writing this, there does not seem to be any effort by the police to persuade the perpetrators of the inflammatory communal posts to take them down. Nor has there been any response from Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who has of late showed signs of confronting the BJP’s communal agenda.