German State Broadcaster's Documentary On 'Hindutva Pop Music' Is One-Sided, Biased, And Riddled With Flaws

German State Broadcaster's Documentary On 'Hindutva Pop Music' Is One-Sided, Biased, And Riddled With Flaws

by Swati Goel Sharma - Friday, February 3, 2023 11:35 PM IST
German State Broadcaster's Documentary On 'Hindutva Pop Music' Is One-Sided, Biased, And Riddled With FlawsA still from the documentary by Deutsche Welle
  • Deutsche Welle's documentary on what it calls 'Hindutva pop' is filled with biased perspectives and selective facts.

German state-owned public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), the name of which translates as ‘German Wave’ in English, released a documentary on alleged hate-mongering ‘Hindutva pop’ songs on Monday (30 January) on their YouTube channel.

The documentary, available in both German and English, comments on songs by independent Hindu singers themed around the Hindu-Muslim conflict.

The broadcaster has called these songs “anti-Muslim hate music”.

What the documentary shows

DW journalist in India, Akanksha Saxena, met the singers, and took bytes from a journalist and a controversial commentator named Apoorvanand Jha, for the report. Throughout, she refers to these singers as “hate mongers” and a part of “divisive Hindutva politics”, and comments that these songs are widening the Hindu-Muslim divide in the Indian society.

The presence of these songs is compared to the rise of “Hindu nationalism” and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Centre in 2014. She says she found links between two singers in the report with Hindu Yuva Vahini, which was once headed by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Visuals of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath have been used towards the end of the video. 

The first singer shown is Sandeep Acharya, who is native to Ayodhya.

Soon after introducing his native place, DW mentions the Babri mosque and Ram Janmabhoomi controversy, like this: “In 1992, a mosque called Babri masjid, which was originally constructed during the Islamic Mughal reign in 16th century, was demolished by Hindus who believed it to be the site of Ram’s birth. This triggered riots across the Indian sub-continent…And this shaped Acharya’s ideology.”

When the Journalist met Acharya, he was performing at a fair in Ragadganj (almost 190 kilometers from Ayodhya).

The journalist interviews him and, during a conversation, he tells a story from his childhood that when his mother was admitted to a hospital and required blood urgently, she told his father to not get the blood of a Muslim. Acharya says this is the reason he is so inclined towards his ‘dharma’ as it is in his genes.

She met another singer from Lucknow named Prem Raghuvanshi who is a computer graduate by profession, but taking inspiration from Sandeep Acharya, has become a writer and singer. His songs have content similar to Acharya, and the DW journalist calls him ‘vicious’.

She says his lyrics draw from fake news circulated on Whatsapp.

Raghuvanshi tells the journalist that “if there are 57 Islamic countries in the world, then why can’t Hindus have a nation of their own?”.

Later in the documentary, the journalist blames these ‘Hindutva pop’ songs for 2022 communal clashes in Khargone, which is a town in Madhya Pradesh.

As per the documentary, the clashes broke out after Hindus played ‘hateful’ songs during a procession. It claims Hindus vandalised Muslim properties and looted them.

The documentary quotes a professor from Delhi University named Apoorvanand Jha. “When such songs are played and tolerated and enjoyed, then young people and not-so-young people think that this is something one can do…The do lead to actual acts of violence," he says.

The journalist says these songs must be banned as they are spreading hatred in the society. At the end of the video, a BJP spokesperson named Anila Singh has been quoted as saying, “Those who have problem with such music must file a complaint against the singers. The party does not endorse such music at all.”

You can watch the documentary in English here

What the documentary does not show

This highly selective report on so-called ‘hate speech’ in India is also riddled with errors. Below is a Swarajya rebuttal of the report.

--What about 'Islamist pop' songs and anti-Hindu hate music?

The Muslim community has its own mushaira and qawwali programmes similar to Hindu jagrans and kirtans. However, while the latter is a butt of jokes of entertainment industries such as Bollywood and stand-up comedy, the former is spared that scrutiny and mockery.

Such events often feature songs that seem to challenge the majority Hindu community.

Mere khwaja ke ghulamon se ulajhna chhod de, phenk denge kaat kar aadha idhar aadha udhar”

(Translation: Stop meddling with the followers of Khwaja, they will chop you into pieces and throw here and there)

This is a popular qawwali in such programmes. You can watch one rendition of it at a qawwali programme in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur area here. The singer in this video, Anish Sabri, has about 7 lakh subscribers on YouTube.

Watch the use of this song in a Muslim street procession in front of a Hindu temple here.

"Jo topi wale ko lalkarega zinda gaad ke rakh denge; agar kaafiron ne sar uthaya to unka sar kaat ke rakh denge"

(Translation: If anyone dares to challenge those wearing skull cap, we will bury him dead; if non-Muslims raise their head, we will chop their heads off)

This is another popular song in the community. You can watch the song’s use for posting videos of Muslim religious processions here, here and here.

“Jis din hum maidan me aayenge..."

(Translation: The day we will enter the battlefield...)

Sung by one Waseem, this song was released on 3 October 2022 from a YouTube channel named R Music which has around 44,000 subscribers.

The lyrics say:

"Tarikh utha kar dekho hum ghazi kehlate hain, hum apne deen ki khatir toofan se lad jate hain; zulm sitam dhaane walo ko, dehshat failane walon ko, hum kya hain ek roz batayenge”

(Translation: Look at history, we Muslims are called Ghazi; we fight against storms for the sake of our religion, we will show our oppressors who we are one day)

Comments like "20 crore of us are ready" can be seen on the YouTube video, where the figure is a conservative estimate of the current Muslim population in India.

Another song, “Deen ke gaddar, bulaun kya Ali ko”, is routinely used in Muslim religious processions (watch here and here).

There is a particular euphoria in the crowd to be seen when a line saying ‘ek baar me mit jayega 100 baar ka jhagda, us paar se is paar bulau kya Ali ko’ (Translation: Let me call Ali and settle the dispute for one and for all) comes in the song.

At a qawwali event in UP’s Hardoi district in 2019, the singer Aneesh Nawab, while singing this song, added a couplet, “Kursi par itna kyun itra raha hai tu, gir jayegi sarkar bulau kya Ali ko” (Translation: Why are you being so arrogant about being in power, the government will fall if I call Ali).

The singer went on to say that this couplet by him had gone viral after the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

His statement makes it clear that the ‘sarkar’ reference was made for the BJP and its Hindu voters as the Congress beat the BJP in these three states in the elections held some months earlier.

You can watch another song played during Muslim religious processions, where the singer appeals the Muslim youth to leave their mobile phones and take swords in their hands.

It continues with slogans of ‘Naara-e-Taqbir’ and, towards the end, the lyrics say, "Na Munsif, na haqim, na huqumat, na adalat.. ab jo bhi faisla hoga Musalman karega" (Translation: No court or witnesses. Musalman will give the verdict). Watch the song here.

Another song calls for killing of five Hindus for every Muslim, which can be heard here

Yet another hugely popular song says, "Jo bhi aya saamne usko cheerenge aur phadenge, hum deen ka jhanda gaadenge" (Translation: We will establish the flag of Islam even if we have to tear apart and butcher everyone who comes in the way).

Watch a video of the song being played outside a temple during a Muslim religious procession in Sarangpur area of Madhya Pradesh here.

This is only a brief list of such songs easily available on the Internet, but completely left out of the DW documentary.

--What about hate speeches by Muslims and resulting violence against Hindus?

Besides these ‘pop’ songs, slogans of beheading raised by Muslim crowds have become routine in the Indian streets.

The slogan, “Gustakh-E-Rasool ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda, sar tan se juda”, translates to, “There is only one punishment for speaking against the Prophet and that is beheading.”

This slogan is a direct call for beheading.

In recent times, several Hindu men have been killed or beheaded for alleged insult of any symbol of Islam or Islam’s founder, radicalised by these street slogans.

Rallies accompanied by this hate slogan were taken out in 2015 in West Bengal and various districts of Uttar Pradesh in reaction to a pamphlet distributed by a UP resident named Kamlesh Tiwari. Similar rallies were taken out in 2021, after a statement made by a priest, Yati Narsinghanand, and later again in 2022 after a statement on a television news debate by former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson, Nupur Sharma.

Kamlesh Tiwari was stabbed and shot to death in his office in 2019 by two Muslim men, fanaticised by the rallies. Another Hindu man, Kanhaiya Lal, was beheaded by two Muslim men at his shop in Udaipur last year.

These men were indoctrinated by social media posts asking for beheading as a just punishment for insult of Islam’s Prophet. The killers had been in touch with Pakistan-based extremist group Dawat-e-Islami. Kanhaiya had merely shared a Facebook post in support of Nupur Sharma.

Yet another Hindu man, Umesh Kolhe, was killed by three Muslim men last year for supporting Sharma against beheading threats. The men were radicalised by proselytising group Tablighi Jamaat.

Sharma was recently given a gun license to protect herself as she has been on the target of many extremist organisations.

Earlier this month, two such men, a Muslim and a Sikh, beheaded a man with Trishul tattoo on his hand, filmed the video and sent it to their handlers in Pakistan, to “prove their capability” in creating terror among Hindus.

This is a brief list of actual beheadings and killings due to hate slogans by members of the Muslim community, but completely left out from DW’s reportage. Read more about hate speech against Hindus in this earlier piece by Swarajya here.

--The reality of Khargone clashes

Swarajya visited the Khargone town a week after the clashes, and here is what we found:

Hindus carried out a procession for Ram Navami on 10 April 2022. As the occasion was being celebrated after two years due to lockdown, flags and frills were installed in various parts of the town. As soon as the procession crossed a mosque located at Talab Square, it was attacked with stones. People equipped with swords and sticks came out from the mosque and started attacking unarmed Hindus, eyewitnesses said.

News of the violence spread like wildfire and communal clashes erupted in at least five colonies within a three-kilometre diameter.

Later, Hindus living in these areas wrote ‘This house is for sale’ on their walls. Both sides suffered loss, but the Hindu side’s version has been completely left out of the DW documentary. Read the Swarajya report here.

Incidentally, in the same Khargone town where the documentary claims that clashes erupted after hateful songs were played during the Hindu procession, Muslim processions are known to play provocative songs like ‘Kar denge tadipar bulau kya Ali ko’ in front of temples, with participants brandishing pistons and swords. Watch a video here.

The DW report makes no mention of the provocation from the other side at all.

--Why quote controversial biased voices?

The report quotes Delhi University professor Apoorvanand Jha as an independent commentator on ‘anti-Muslim music’ and how it triggers violence, but hides several facts about him.

After the Delhi riots in 2020, Apoorvanand was questioned for five hours by the Delhi Police special cell for accusations against him that he instigated the riots and told the protesters of CAA bill to arrange stones, empty bottles, acid and knives.

--Why hide the court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute?

The report, as shown above, refers to the presence of a Ram temple beneath the mosque as a “belief” of Hindus, despite the glaring fact that no less than the Supreme Court has given a verdict that the site was indeed a temple before a mosque was erected over it.

In a generous compensation, the court also directed the government to allot give acres of land at an alternative site in Ayodhya for the mosque.

The documentary says ‘riots erupted in the Indian sub-continent’ after the Babri demolition but again hides the glaring fact that a day after this event, as many as 30 Hindu and Jain temples were demolished and anti-Hindu violence erupted in Pakistan.

The following years saw an estimated 70,000 Pakistani Hindus migrate to India for fleeing persecution.

In Bangladesh, large-scale anti-Hindu violence erupted where Hindu women were targeted for sexual crimes.

While the act of demolition of a mosque has been used for tarnishing the image of Hindus and the Hindutva movement in India for three decades now, the anti-Hindu violence in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Hindus have reduced to a tiny minority, is hardly ever mentioned in the global media.

(Subhi Vishwakarma contributed to the reporting)

Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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