Delhi's voters came out to cast their vote on Saturday after a particularly polarised and blistering election campaign in the backdrop of the massive protests against the CAA and NRC. However, while the polling was relatively peaceful, a tweet by Bharatiya Janata Party's Karnataka unit was widely criticised on social media for its communal undertones.
BJP Karnataka shared a video of Muslim women voters in burqas standing in a polling booth queue to cast their vote in Delhi. The sarcastic caption to the video read,""Kaagaz Nahi Dikayenge Hum"!!! Keep the documents safe, you will need to show them again during #NPR exercise. #DelhiPolls2020".
"Kaagaz Nahi Dikayenge Hum" ! ! ! Keep the documents safe, you will need to show them again during #NPR exercise.#DelhiPolls2020 pic.twitter.com/bEojjeKlwI — BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) February 8, 2020
The caption is a reference to the 'Kagaz Nahin Dikhaenge' slogan popularly raised by protesters, artists and activist opposed to the the recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 as well as the implementation of nation-wide National Register of Citizens.
The CAA fast-tracks Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities for people of six faiths in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but does not include Muslims. The NRC is a register of legal Indian citizens, meant to identify illegal migrants. Critics fear that if the new citizenship law were combined with a citizenship test under NRC, Muslims could be disenfranchised, stripped of their nationality or their right to vote.
The National Population Register exercise is to be conducted from April to identify all "usual residents", but critics have called it the first step towards a pan-India NRC after questions related to place of birth of parents were added to the form.
The slogan 'Kagaz Nahin Dikhaenge' literally translates to "We will not show our papers". Essentially, it means protesters and detractors of CAA, NRC and NPR will not show relevant documents to officials in order to prove they are citizens of India as a mark of civil disobedience.
The government has officially denied the plan to implement nationwide NRC, despite several statements made in the past by leaders of the ruling BJP, including home minister Amit Shah. The government recently told members of the Parliament during the Budget Session that the government had no plans to implement nationwide NRC, at least for now. It also said that the information in NPR will not be used for NRC and that information shared for the National Population Register (NPR) will be voluntary.
BJP Karnataka, however, seems to be acknowledging the possibility of an NRC taking place by asking the Muslim voters to keep their identity documents safe for when they need it for NRC. The video was instantly picked up by communal trolls. One Twitter user wrote, "Who are these Muslims with no conscience? Till yesterday, they were saying 'we will not show papers'. Today, they stand in line with their identity papers in hand."
ये कैसे मुसलमान हैं जिनका ईमान ही मुसल्लम नहीं है, कल तक नारे लगा रहे थे कागज नहीं दिखाएंगे और आज हाथों में कागज लिए लाइन लगाकर खड़े हो गए भई😂#DelhiPolls2020 pic.twitter.com/9nE0tjEXaX — Dalip Pancholi🇮🇳 (@DalipPancholi) February 8, 2020
By sharing a video of just Muslim women holding up their voter ID cards, the tweet also appears to create polarisation among Muslims, many of whom have been protesting in the national capital for days against CAA, NRC and NPR. The ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh have been used as a divisive poll plank by the BJP whose leaders have repeatedly called it a threat to public safety and democracy.
BJP Karnataka's tweet confused many on Twitter who wondered why the BJP was taking such disparate stance on the issue. A journalist as well as others pointed out the same in a tweet.
Either these 👆 guys are misleading the public. Or the Government is misleading the Parliament. Which one is it? — Meghnad (@Memeghnad) February 8, 2020
Either BJP Karnataka knows something that Amit Shah and his ministry doesn’t or are they completely stupid? @PIBHomeAffairs, please clarify. pic.twitter.com/DR7SAmDXYB — SamSays (@samjawed65) February 8, 2020
Others also slammed the tone-deaf and 'threatening' tweet against Muslim women.
@Tejasvi_Surya what an utterly crude handle you operate. The language of thugs and goons from the state of Karnataka known for its literary excellence. Disgraceful. — Madhumita Mazumdar (@mmazumdar2014) February 8, 2020
Not done! Adds to the fear factor! Derails PM Modi’s pitch. Please be sensible. 🙏 — Amrita Bhinder (@amritabhinder) February 8, 2020
. @BSYBJP has become. More wafadar than the Hindi masters.. This handle from Karnataka Bjp is full of filth.. I'm ashamed as a Kannadiga.. #aakthu.. https://t.co/vti2YssK7c — Talha Gulbargavi #Shaheen #Kashmiri (@TalhaGulbargavi) February 8, 2020
This is not the first time that BJP Karnataka's Twitter handle has come under fire for a contentious tweet. The handle had previously tweeted about an Amazon delivery receipt for razors that the unit allegedly sent to Omar Abdullah after images of his unshaven face under Kashmir lockdown went viral. The tweet was later deleted.
The handle again came under fire after it posted a contentious tweet regarding Sharjeel Imam and the shooting at protest outside Jamia Millia Islamia that injured a Kashmiri student.