By Vipul Kumar

On January 22, in what can be described as one of the biggest moments of Hindutva triumphalism in a decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Ram idol in Ayodhya. Describing the temple as a symbol of peace, harmony, and integration of all Indians, Modi said that the moment illustrates the maturity of Indians. He went on to suggest that the temple will take the country’s development journey to new heights.

However, the conversations around the event on many groups of his supporters on the messaging app Telegram belies this supposed message of peace and harmony. Shortly before and after the inauguration, these Telegram groups unleashed a flood of hate messages, fake news, and political propaganda targeting Muslims and opposition parties, and representing the event as one that can start off the process of the demolition of more mosques.

One such message in a channel called Samaj, with around 700 subscribers, says, “Tbh ab mullo ka future h nhi india me. kuch tym baad khule nhi dikhenge ye”.

Translated, it means, “To be honest there is no future of Muslims in India. They will not be seen in the open after some time.”


This reporter tracked at least 80 such Telegram channels, which together have more than 100,000 subscribers and found that Telegram’s automated ‘suggestions’ also aided the process.

The Telegram algorithm works in a way that ensures that if you join two or three of these channels, a suggestion pops up with a link to join other channels of the same kind, making it easy for one to find like-minded channels.

To gain insight into how Telegram plays a unique role compared to other platforms in shaping debates and pushing propaganda, the reporter interviewed Professor Mohan J. Dutta. Dutta is Chair Professor of Communication at Massey University, New Zealand, and has studied far-right trends extensively. His work also focuses on the online Hindutva hate ecosystem. He has authored a series of research papers on cultural Hindutva and Islamophobia.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.