On Sunday, February 20, Twitter took down a highly inflammatory tweet by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Gujarat Twitter handle. The handle tweeted a cartoon of what appears to be a group of Muslim men being hanged. Local news outlets were able to take screenshots of the tweet before the Twitter platform itself removed the post.
In the background of the hanging Muslims was a depiction of a bomb going off, and on the upper right side, the words “Satyameva Jayate,” meaning the truth will triumph.
The controversial tweet was posted on a Saturday and was taken down by Twitter the next day. A day before the posting, the Gujarat court sentenced 38 convicts to the death penalty for the explosions in Ahmedabad in 2008. The remaining 11 prisoners convicted for the Ahmedabad blasts were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The cartoon was an apparent reference to the court ruling of the 2008 Ahmedabad Blasts, where more than 21 bombs exploded in different sites in Ahmedabad in one day.
Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, an Islamic terror group based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attacks, killing more than 56 people, mostly Hindus. Over 200 were injured. The bombs were intentionally set off in crowded areas like Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-run LG Hospital and public transport.
Siddharth Varadarajan of The Wire compared the BJP’s post to Nazi propaganda. The BJP, Prime Minister Modi’s party, is a hardline right-wing Hindu party. In 2019, Modi claimed that there is no such thing as a Hindu terrorist.
Varadarajan said that the BJP could be “signaling to its supporters that this is the fate of Muslims in the future.” Other news outlets claim that BJP is gaining political loyalty by appealing to their most right-wing Hindu members.
On Monday, February 21. Dr. Rutvij Patel, a BJP spokesperson, announced that the cartoon was based on actual photographs and did not target any specific religion or community. “The sketch was based on real photographs of the convicts published by newspapers a day after the verdict,” Patel explained.
“Our sketch was just an artistic expression shared on social media, nothing else,” Patel added.
The party also removed the cartoon from their Facebook pages and other social media channels.