Lata Mangeshkar, the legendary Indian vocalist, died on Sunday at the age of 92 and was accorded a state funeral by the Indian government. Music enthusiasts from all across the world paid tribute to the “Indian nightingale.” Music, it is said, transcends borders, as seen by the condolence letters for Lata, demonstrating how much she was loved across the border in Pakistan.
“With the demise of Lata Mangeshkar, the subcontinent has lost one of the genuinely great vocalists the world has ever known,” Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted. Pakistani leaders, athletes, journalists, actors, and artists, as well as citizens from around the country, expressed their condolences on social media platforms. PTV, Pakistan’s state-owned television network, and other networks aired Lata’s songs and paid lavish tribute to the music queen.
Thus, it was extremely disappointing but unsurprising to see the hate campaign against Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan after he attended Lata’s funeral yesterday and paid tribute to her departed soul by saying a prayer for her and blowing the dua (prayer) in the air near her body, a custom observed by many Muslims worldwide. Leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party initiated the anti-Muslim, Islamophobic propaganda campaign against SRK (BJP).
Arun Yadav of the BJP was the first to post a video of SRK at the burial, blowing a prayer into the wind, with the deceptive and cruel caption: “Kya isnay thooka hai?” (Was he spitting?)
Soon after Yadav’s tweet, another BJP leader, Prashant Umrao, tweeted: “Shahrukh is Spitting!” while quoting another anti-Muslim tweet directed at the Bollywood star. These tweets prompted numerous BJP-affiliated accounts and Hindutva trolls to disparage and distribute fake information about Shah Rukh’s behavior at Lata Mangeshkar’s burial on Sunday.
Numerous people correctly condemned the BJP leaders and their followers for launching an evil campaign against SRK solely based on his faith. Under the Modi government, minorities in India, particularly Muslims, have faced unprecedented persecution and injustice. Such deceptive advertisements are not uncommon in the BJP government. When the coronavirus pandemic began in India, the Modi government and its mouthpieces in the Indian media erroneously accused the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi of being a super-spreader event, an allegation that Indian courts ultimately refuted. Such deceptive, inaccurate, and ‘communal reporting’ has become the standard in India.
As a result, it was unsurprising to witness false and malicious assaults leveled against a superstar of Shah Rukh’s magnitude solely based on his Muslim faith. It’s unfathomable that a Muslim artist praying for a Hindu singer at her burial could be communalized to the point where some people believe SRK will spit on Lata’s body. It demonstrates how India has become exceedingly sectarian and uninhabitable for minorities under Modi. India appears to have been wholly saffronized.