Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday warned against “over-activism” after jewellery brand Tanishq was targeted for an advertisement featuring an inter-faith family celebrating a Hindu woman’s baby shower, News18 reported.
“The roots of social harmony are very strong,” Shah said in an interview with the channel. “There have been many such attacks on it. The British tried to break this harmony, later the Congress also tried the same.”
The commercial was withdrawn on Tuesday after it received vociferous criticism from Hindutva supporters and others on social media. The advertisement, released ahead of the festival season, showed a baby shower organised by a Muslim family for their Hindu daughter-in-law.
Shah told News18 that “such small incidents” cannot break India’s social harmony. “I believe there shouldn’t be any form of over-activism,” he added.
In a statement late on Tuesday, Tanishq said it was withdrawing the ad due to “hurt sentiments” and the “well-being” of their employees, partners and store staff. The company also said the idea behind “Ekavatam” or oneness campaign – was to “celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness”. The jewellery brand is a subsidiary of the Tata Group, one of the largest conglomerates in India.
A day after the ad was withdrawn, a Tanishq jewellery showroom in the city of Gandhidham in Gujarat posted an apology note outside the store after people allegedly barged into the store demanding one. Calls to boycott the company over the advertisement were trending on social media for “normalising love jihad” – a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindu activists alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
On Maharashtra governor
Shah also spoke to News18 about Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, where the former questioned his faith and even took a jibe at secularism. Koshyari had wondered whether the chief minister has “suddenly turned secular” on his decision to reopen religious places in the state amid the coronavirus crisis.
The home minister said Koshyari could have chosen his words better.
The BJP leader supported Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath’s decision to form a Special Investigation Team to look into the the gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman by four upper-caste Thakur men in Hathras district of the state. “The three accused in Hathras were arrested the same day and today they are in jail,” he said.
Shah denied the state government’s role in any kind of mishandling of the case and blamed the “thana” or police station. “There is no denying that police reforms are the need of the hour but a rape happens in Hathras and Rajasthan at the same time, but why only the Hathras incident is played up,” he asked. “How correct is to do politics over such a heinous crime?”
He pointed out that some police officials have been suspended and that the Central Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case.
The Hathras case had attracted much criticism after the police forcibly cremated the victim’s body against their wishes, when they were locked inside their homes. The local administration had also threatened the family and has consistently claimed the victim was not raped, based on physical evidence collected several days after the crime.