On Wednesday, the star wrestler took to Twitter and wrote, "कोरोना वायरस भारत की दूसरे नंबर की सबसे बड़ी समस्या है। जाहिल जमाती अभी भी पहले नंबर पर बना हुआ है। #jahiljamati
(Coronavirus is the second biggest problem in India, uncivilised Jamaati, however, are India's number one)."
कोरोना वायरस भारत की दूसरे नंबर की सबसे बड़ी समस्या है।
जाहिल जमाती अभी भी पहले नंबर पर बना हुआ है।#jahiljamati
— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) April 15, 2020
The communally charged tweet was heavily panned across but soon brushed under the rug after Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut's sister and manager Rangoli Chandel managed to grab Twitterati's attention - for all the wrong reasons.
Chandel, On Wednesday, Chandel posted a tweet saying, "A Jamaati dies of corona...when police went to check their families they were attacked and killed, secular media," she wrote. Chandel further added, "...make these mullas + secular media stand in a line and shoot them dead... f***k history, they may call us Nazis (but) who cares. Life is more important than fake image".
Twitter took note of the deeply communal and Islamophobic tweet and suspended her controversial account indefinitely. Phogat, unhinged by the netizens calling her out on her tweet, put out another tweet on Thursday and this was when all hell broke loose. Seemingly taking a stand for Rangoli, Phogat wrote that Twitter didn't like those who spoke "truth" on its platform.
आज रंगोली चंदेल दीदी ने किसकी पूँछ पर पैर रख दिया। आजकल ट्विटर भी सच्ची बात लिखने वालों से काफी खफा रहता है।#RangoliChandel — Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) April 16, 2020
Cut to Friday, #SuspendBabitaPhogat became the top trending hashtag on Twitter in India and fuming Twitterati has had "enough" of Phogat and want her account to be suspended.
#SuspendBabitaPhogat Suspend Babita Phogat. She is a communal hate generating machine. She is injurious to India’s peace.
— RKHuria (@rkhuria) April 16, 2020
#SuspendBabitaPhogat trend karo. Time to shut down this hate machine. https://t.co/AdG0MmDhhs — Hasiba Amin 🌈 (@HasibaAmin) April 16, 2020
Someone who got fame through wrestling & also a movie gave a message to people but such hate mongers have no place on Twitter .
Suspend her Account .#SuspendBabitaPhogat
— Dr Jwala Gurunath (@DrJwalaG) April 17, 2020
Suspend this bigot Phogat.#SuspendBabitaPhogat pic.twitter.com/Wn8g8rFVTv — Shivangi (@ChoubeyShivangi) April 16, 2020
Time to shut down these hate machines. Pass it on please.
— Terence (@terence_fdes) April 16, 2020
Nizamuddin was first reported as a COVID-19 "hotbed" after a congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat that took place in Bangalewaali Masjid, days before India went into a 21-day lockdown. Jamaatis came from across India as well as abroad, the latter possibly bringing the virus with them and spreading it around the Markhaz during the event.
The rising cases of coronavirus in India, however, have brought with it an increase in fake news and Islamophobic propaganda as well. Since news of the Jamaat congregation being a COVID-19 cluster broke, a variety of fake news and rumours related to coronavirus have been spread against Muslims of India under hashtags such as #CORONAJIHAD and #NizamuddinIdiot
Notably, this isn't the first instance of social media outrage surrounding Phogat's tweet.
Earlier this month, Phogat posted a cryptic tweet, referring to the incident that took place in Indore when a mob of angry locals attacked Healthcare workers and civic officials after the latter tried to screen residents of a locality for COVID-19.
"At your place it might have spread through bats, in India it spread through illiterate pigs," Phogat tweeted alongside a hashtag #NizamuddinIdiots to her post.
A section of Twitterati felt Phogat's tweet was an attempt to "target a community and to communalise" the Markaz Nizamuddin incident, where over 2,000 people had gathered for the religious event.
Interestingly, following #SuspendBabitaPhogat on Friday, a subsequent hashtag #ISupportBabitaPhogat trended far and wide in India and netizens praised the wrestler for having the "guts" to speak the "truth".