On October 14, NDTV that a mob had attacked a Tanishq showroom in Gujarat’s Gandhidham town. They were outraged by an ad for the jewellery brand’s latest collection Ekatvam, meaning oneness. The ad shows a Muslim family preparing for their Hindu daughter-in-law’s baby shower in line with Hindu rituals. It angered Hindu nationalists, online and off, who decried it as glorifying “love jihad”, a Hindutva bogey that projects Muslim men as predators on the prowl for gullible Hindu women.
Some Hindu nationalists on social media even doxxed and allegedly sent death threats to Tanishq’s brand manager, who happens to be Muslim.
Tanishq, owned by the Tata Group, responded by withdrawing the ad.
As soon as NDTV ran the story of the attack on Wednesday, a social media crowd it of spreading fake news.
The Indian Express also ran a story that quoted an unnamed employee at the showroom as claiming that a mob of about at the shop and six-seven of them had gone inside and hurled abuses at the staff. The story was later to remove any mention of the size of the mob.
Subsequently, the as also reported that a man named Ramesh Maitra had entered the showroom on Monday and demanded that the staff apologise for the ad. A of Maitra demanding the apology later surfaced on Twitter. In it, he’s heard saying, “I am, with folded hands, requesting you that I need you to put up an apology on a board at the gate by tomorrow. Will the board be there? Will you give me an assurance?”
He is then heard telling a staffer to inform him once the apology is up. The staffer responds that he will have it up by 7 am.
The , written on a whiteboard in Gujarati, duly appeared the next morning. It read, “Ashamed of Tanishq ad that has come out in the media today. Gandhidham Tanishq apologises to Samagra Kutch Jilla Hindu Samaaj”, referring to a local Hindu organisation.
While the mentioned that it was Maitra who had demanded the apology, the quoted the showroom’s owner Prakash Gupta as saying that it was written by one of the men who had barged into his shop.
Kutch’s police chief, Mayur Patil, acknowledged that the showroom had received threatening calls following which police were deployed there but that an attack had taken place.
On Wednesday, Gujarat’s home minister, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, the news of the attack on the Tanishq showroom was fake and he had asked for a case to be filed against those who had spread the fake news.
Following the social media outrage, NDTV its story, saying the mob had made “threats” at the Gandhidham showroom, rather than attacked it. A by Alt News found that while the NDTV report about the attack was indeed wrong, online criticism directed at the TV news channel “failed to acknowledge that the store did not merely receive threatening calls but a group of men visited the place and coerced the jewellery brand into putting up an apology note. That the police had to provide security to the staff was a far greater issue that was never discussed”.
After the video showing him demanding an apology from the Tanishq staff gained traction on social media, Maitra appeared in another video, by Satish Jha of the Deccan Herald. In it, Maitra is heard saying, “I am a simple businessman. I run a transport business, and I would never want for anybody’s business to be ruined. Not in the name of community, not in the name of our religion. I would never want anything like this to happen.”
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