A 2020 List of ‘Influencers’ whose ideas belong in the Dustbin of Hate

Some social media influencers have made second careers, spewing hate against anyone they do not consider a part of the right-wing gang

Hate speech

Social media influencers have made careers and money, telling hipsters about fashion trends, delicious food, given travel goals, even fuelled social causes. Yet, there is a band of such ‘influencers’ who have found their second calling spewing hate, whose ideas should be put in the dustbin of hate, in random order. 

1: Kangana Ranaut (Actor) 

She states her Twitter bio thus: Artist, Recipient of Padmashri, Three national awards winner, highest grossing female centric films, Budding Filmmaker, Wannabe environmentalist. Ranaut should probably add Right Wing spokesperson, commenter on everything to the list. After hunting film industry colleagues, she’s been busy spreading fake news about the farmers’ protest, alleging ‘terrorists had begun participating’ in it, calling it politically motivated. Ranaut’s favourites to abuse are the old women farmers, and Bilquis Bano of Shaheen Bagh. When corrected by popular artists such as Diljit Dosanj, she chose her overused ‘woman bhakt’ victim card. She is in a cheerful mood at the moment and has wished “Merry Christmas to only those who don’t do selective activism only around Hindu festivals” and “Good morning to only those who love Akhand Bharat and don’t want it to break in pieces…” The silver lining is that she has moved on from being a wooden horse riding ‘warrior’. 


2: Vivek Agnihotri (Filmmaker)

The man at least has never pretended he was not right-wing. Vivek Agnihotri, who laughed at a man speaking in English at the farmers’ protest, was one of the first right-wing social media team to fuel the trope that ‘real’ farmers must look poor, be illiterate, speak only one native language. He is often given a sharp lesson by social media users. He also deleted his old, extremely problematic tweet, where he made light of rape, “What makes Nano the safest car for women? There is simply no way to get gang-raped here,” the screen shots still exist to remind the world who he is. Agnihotri’s biggest achievement has been that he has reportedly claimed to have popularised the term “Urban Naxal”, he now calls himself a public intellectual, author, and filmmaker. 


3: Payal Rohatgi (Actor)

She makes video monologues to spew communal hate, and share bizarre theories. She has been called out multiple times on social media for her Islamophobia, and has even had police complaints lodged against her for spreading fake theories about historical figures. Rohatgi’s favourite hobby is to spin strange theories about the Nehru-Gandhi family. On December 23, a complaint was filed against her in Mumbai, for allegedly posting communal tweets a few months ago. She had been regularly spreading hatred against Muslims, which was amplified online by her followers against the community. In June, she targeted anti-CAA activist Safoora Zargar, and actor Swara Bhaskar. A few weeks after that Rohatgi’s Twitter account was suspended. She is still ranting about it on Instagram, and has asked Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to intervene, indicating he/ government risked being ‘voted out of power’ if they did not support people like her on social media.


4. Pushpendra Kulshreshtha (ex-journalist)

A former Secretary General of the Press Club of India now seems to believe in communalising communication, via his YouTube channel “Public 24*7”. In November, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) approached the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) with a complaint against Kulshreshtha. The CJP complaint shows how Kulshreshtha has been using social media to make inflammatory speeches related to Islamic terror, rise of ‘anti-nationalism’, Kashmir, Popular Front of India, Student Islamic Movement of India, etc. The complaint also cites comments below his videos that suggest waging a civil war against Muslims and calling out Islamic Jihadis/Muslims as Hinduism’s biggest enemy. Kulshreshtha demonstrates entrenched hate towards Muslims, and believes that there is only one religion in the country, that is Hinduism (Sanathan Dharam) and that Islam is not a religion but an ideology to capture power. According to Kulshreshtha Hindus and Muslims cannot co-exist in India, and he blames the educated sections of the Muslim community who go ‘astray’ and join the ‘other side’.


5. Prashant Patel Umrao (Lawyer)

It has been years since practicing Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Patel Umrao demanded the massacre of Muslims and demolitions of Masjids on Twitter in 2013. The social media platform did nothing to shut Umrao’s account, and it has just grown in hate over the years. Most recently he posted that the “Attack on Jio towers must be seen as war against National Security. 5G is bigger than mobile connectivity. Ambani is great threat to Chinese 5G & for 5G China can do anything.” Most of his hate speech is allegedly aimed specifically at Muslims. Known to champion spinning fake news on Twitter, he was one of the right-wing team members who were active after the Tanishq Jewellery brand’s communal harmony advertisement. He reportedly shared an image of a “black empire” in India by allegedly putting a “burqa” on the Indian map that locates the brand’s stores.


6. Sajid Rashidi (President, All India Imam Association)

Rashidi is termed by many as a ‘stooge’ who is called on television debates where he makes absurd statements, giving right-wing members on the debate panel a chance to engage in Muslim bashing. He recently made a provocative statement after the foundation laying ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Mosque wasn’t built after demolishing the temple but now maybe the temple will be demolished to build a mosque,” Sajid Rashidi said.  Rashidi’s inflammatory statement revealed the ugly face of communal politics. During the campaigns for Delhi elections he was said to have been a supporter of BJP.


7. Suresh Chavhanke (Editor-in-Chief, Sudarshan News)

He claims to be a ‘nationalist journalist’ and makes TV shows he claims are news, adding the word ‘jihad’ wherever he can. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) had cautioned Sudarshan News against the content of its ‘UPSC Jihad’ show and said that in case of any further violation stricter action would be taken. The MIB filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court about the outcome of the show cause notice issued to Sudarshan News with regards to the show. The Ministry took cognisance of the several complaints received by it against the telecast and noted that the ‘UPSC Jihad’ show was offensive, and promoted communal attitude. Suresh Chavhanke, the Editor-in-Chief of Sudarshan had asked “How has there been a sudden rise in the number of Muslims in IAS and IPS? What is the secret behind scoring high marks in such a difficult exam? If Jihadis of Jamia become your Collectors and Chief Secretaries, what will happen then?”


8. Amish Devgan (News 18 India anchor)

Devgan is known to be a serial hate offender, who likes to talk Hindutva at all times. For example, on June 15, 2020, his primetime show Aar Paar was, “Barson baad Ayodhya ki aas hui poori, sant kahein Kashi-Mathura kyun rahe adhuri (Only years later the desire for the Ayodhya temple was fulfilled, why should the Kashi-Mathura temples be left behind, ask saints)?” He has had a police complaint filed against him for spreading fake news of Muslims offering namaaz at the Kurla Masjid in Mumbai amid the lockdown. He issued a 30-second apology to his viewers for that. Devgan had earlier while insinuating that the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protestors had a part to play in the Delhi communal riots.


9. Major General GD Bakshi (Army veteran)

He has been a known face on TV ‘news’ debates. Most recently he has co-founded an outfit called ‘ Sanatan Sansad’, which he posted is to ‘raise Rashtriya chetna- National consciousness and revive Sanatana dharma values’. Major General Bakshi has also spoken on ‘Saraswati civilisation’ at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, where his recourse to the word ‘bloody’ is said to have a frequency that was baffling and jarring. His abuse and insinuations were hurled primarily against his invisible antagonist, Romila Thapar, professor emerita at the Centre for Historical Studies. His abuse is also aimed at those he calls “the army of leftist historians.” His ‘speeches’ praising and defending divisive right-wing ideology always make for loud TV ‘debates’, where he remains a favourite guest.


10. Garv se kaho hum hindu hai – Hindu jago, Facebook page

Its name translates as ‘Say it with pride, I am a Hindu – Wake up Hindus!’, the admin keeps posting old inciteful and provocative speeches delivered by former Hindutva leaders such as Balasaheb Thackeray in a bid to dig out old wounds or to provoke anti-Muslim sentiments by reminding people of communal incidents of the past. This page, with over 18,000 followers is one of the many such pages that starkly reflect prevalent fascism and the idea of a Hindu nation. Such Facebook pages are kept active by the several right wing organisations that have mushroomed throughout the country. They keep propagating hatred and inciting Hindus by giving them a sense of being victimised at the hands of minorities such as the Muslim community in order to feed into their political, communal agenda. A Wall Street Journal report showed how often Facebook turned a blind eye to controversial hate speech by BJP to remain in the party’s good books.


11. Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhlawi (Tablighi Jamaat leader)

With the release of Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) members by a Delhi court, those who wrongly blamed them for the Covid-19 spread, and then used it to add to increasing hatred against all Muslims must apologise. The Jammat’s head Maulana Saad  also must be called out for his putrid speeches. His words added to the vilification of his own congregation, and he has gone scot free while scores of members were detained, arrested, and continue to suffer the consequences. The jailed and quarantined followers were abandoned by Tablighi Jamaat chief, who himself stayed at a ‘safe location’. Ignoring all advice, including that from Muslim intellectuals, leaders and clerics, Maulana Saad, was adamant that programmes continue as scheduled. His attitude resulted in endangering the community. While he has claimed to be in self isolation “on advice from doctors,” he added fuel to the fire by allegedly sending dangerous advice like, “even if some one dies after they come into a mosque. I say there is no better place to die.”

(Compiled by Karuna John)


Harvest  2020:  Lessons farmers of India taught the world

2020 List of Honour: 10 Anti-CAA-NPR-NRC protesters vilified in Delhi

A 2020 Report of 10 Worst Victims of apathy: Dalits, Adivasis

A 2020 Report of 10 Worst Victims of Apathy: India’s Migrant Workers




Related Articles