A recently released documentary from Maktoob Originals, titled ‘Hindutva Pandemic,’ exposes the role of Hindutva in inciting the 2022 unrest in the city of Leicester, UK. The gripping documentary reveals the long-standing presence of Hindutva and its involvement in instigating violence in the city even prior to the unrest.
In an alarming incident in 2017, the documentary explained, an ideologically inspired mob led a venomous campaign when Muslim residents moved a planning permission request to the Leicester city council to covert an office space to a mosque in Belgrave Road. The application was met with scores of objections brimmed with bigoted, Islamophobic rhetorics and Hindu supremacist sentiments.
“The mosque will lead to the cultural and demographic dominance of Muslims where Hindus are a predominant community, and Muslims can recruit children to terrorism via the mosque,” one of the Hindu residents objected.
The 23-minute-long documentary, directed by independent journalist and filmmaker PP Jaseem, also highlights the rise and consequences of Hindutva influence in diaspora communities and the foreign political landscape.
In the 2019 general election to the UK Parliament, another campaign was launched in Leicester by Hindutva forces for Bhupen Dev, who was then a candidate for the Conservative Party. The campaign was titled Operation Dharmik Vote (ODV).
An ODV leaflet appealed to Hindu households, urging them to vote based on the candidate’s alignment with “Hindus/India.” One of the reasons stated in the leaflet to support the Conservative candidate was the party’s stance against the criminalization of caste, which mirrored the core ethnic affinity of Upper-Castes in Hindutva.
The documentary also examined the growth of Hindutva in other parts of the world.
“I think It’s incorrect to see Hindu nationalism as an Indian ideology that may be some echoes elsewhere. Rather, it is truly a global and transnational phenomenon…. The wider family of Hindu nationalist groups has real power, influence, and leadership in this movement,” Audrey Truschke, Associate Professor at Rutgers University has commented in the documentary.
The documentary has been tremendously well-received by diverse communities. Numerous university student bodies and community-based organizations in the UK are hosting screenings.
The premiere was held at the University of Oxford, where the Oxford South Asian Society organized a discussion on the “ramifications of the rise of global Hindutva” after the screening. Mohammed Owais from the UK-Indian Muslim Council, Amrit Wilson of the South Asia Solidarity Group, Dr. Akashi Bhatt, the daughter of whistleblower police officer Sanjeev Bhatt, and Jaseem participated in the discussion.
“I’m humbled by the wider acceptability my documentary has gained. It means a lot to me that so many people connected with the film and its message. I hope that it has shed light on the important issues we aimed to address and sparked meaningful conversations.” PP Jaseem, the documentary director commented.
You can watch the documentary here: