India's ruling BJP, right-wing news outlets attack ‘Muslim language’ Urdu

India's ruling BJP, right-wing news outlets attack ‘Muslim language’ Urdu
Hindu nationalists, including senior members of India's ruling BJP, have claimed that Urdu is being used to spread an agenda or to 'hide' information from Hindus.
3 min read
06 April, 2022
The BJP has attacked Urdu claiming it is a 'Muslim' language [Getty]

Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and right-wing Indian news outlets have launched an attack against the Urdu language, calling it a ‘Muslim’ language.

Araga Jnanendra, the home minister of the BJP-ruled state of Karnataka in southern India claimed on Wednesday that a 22-year-old was murdered in the state's capital because he did not speak Urdu.

He later retracted the statement, saying that his initial statement was ‘not right', as reported in The Times of India.

Other BJP leaders and right-wing news outlets however have continued to amplify this false claim, including BJP National Secretary CT Ravi.

In a separate incident, popular food company Haldiram’s was targeted by a right-wing news outlet that claimed the company was using Urdu to ‘hide’ the contents inside its food packaging from Hindus.

Sudarshan News’ editor Suresh Chavhanke claimed that the ingredients behind a specific Haldiram’s snack were written in Urdu to deceive Hindus into eating food they are not allowed to consume on certain religious occasions.

The text is not Urdu but Arabic, as Haldiram’s is widely exported from India to the Gulf states.

“Why is the information printed in the Urdu language on the snacks packet? Did the company use animal oil in the making which shouldn’t be consumed by Hindus during Navratri? Or is it beef? Hindus who fast can’t understand this language and people who can understand this language do not fast, so why Urdu on this?” he tweeted.  

Sudarshan News is known for its  support for Hindu nationalism and for spreading hatred against Muslims, and is one of the biggest beneficiaries of government advertising since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. 

Both ‘Urdu’ and ‘Haldirams’ are trending on Twitter in India, with hundreds of users calling for the company to be boycotted for using a ‘Muslim’ language.

Urdu, which has its origins in Delhi and Lucknow in north India, is spoken by over 50 million people in India. It is also the national language of Pakistan. 

Attacks against Muslims and Islamic culture in India have skyrocketed over the past few weeks, most notably in the southern state of Karnataka. The state is home to Bengaluru, a centre of India's IT industry and one of the country's most cosmopolitan and progressive cities. 

Karnataka’s dangerous slide towards Hindu nationalism began when Modi’s right-wing BJP took power in the state elections in 2018.

The state has recently banned women and girls from wearing a hijab in educational institutions, and shopkeepers were reportedly attacked for selling 'halal' meat.

Attacks against both Muslims and Christians have become more commonplace over the past four years. Muslims have been routinely beaten, harassed and killed, and a rights group found at least 42 attacks against the Christian community in 2021.