Just when we thought the Zomato controversy and the bigotry associated with it had come to a standstill, it broadened its horizon and somehow worsened the situation.
A few days ago, Amit Shukla created quite an uncalled for rage, when he cancelled his Zomato order because his rider wasn’t a Hindu man. He took to twitter and wrote – “Just cancelled an order on @ZomatoIN they allocated a non-hindu rider for my food they said they can’t change rider and can’t refund on cancellation I said you can’t force me to take a delivery I don’t want don’t refund just cancel”
This tweet had many people furious and this soon turned into a twitter war. Zomato clapped back with an appropriate response – “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion.” After this exchange everyone on twitter had something to say, those in support of Amit Shukla even started off a hashtag -#BoycottZomato, where users uploaded screenshots of them deleting the Zomato app.
After all this drama, debates sparked off in newsrooms, as is the pattern with almost anything that happens in this country. News24, hosted a panel on their show regarding the Zomato issue, five panelists were given the stage to speak. Of these, Ajay Gautam a founder of a Hindu right-wing organization called 'Hum Hindu'. The organization states that its sole objective is 'complete Swaraj, absolute Hindu Rashtra'.
As the debate came to an end, the host, Sandeep Chaudhary called on another news reporter - Saud Mohammad Khalid to finish the segment. The arrival of Khalid prompted Ajay Gautam to cover his eyes and he refused to look at him directly.
The clip of this incident soon went viral on Twitter, where users slammed this degrading behavior. The state of the country reflected in the actions of this Hindu leader, who openly participated in blind bigotry.
These actions echo the larger scheme of things in the country, where people are allowed to demean another person on the basis of their religion in open defiance. Gautam’s behavior incited twitter to take on the issue, and users were not happy.
In a tweet, a user said - "This needs to make headlines world over! This level of islamophobia needs to be exposed." More people piled up on to this trail, - "Such bigots and communal minds should not only be banned by entire electronic media but strong criminal action must be taken against them."
The editor-in-chief of News24, Anurradha Prasad, expressed concern over his actions and put out a statement – “we at the newsroom of @news24tvchannel are in shock at the inappropriate & condemnable behavior of Mr. Ajay 1Gautam. Ethics of journalism do not allow to give platform to such devisive voices & gestures. @news24tvchannel has decided not to invite Mr. Ajay Gautam to its studio.”
This incident sparked off conversation about the current state of religious hostility in the country, and rightfully so. Gautam’s website for ‘Hum Hindu’ opens the window to understanding the level of bigotry and the hate being perpetuated in the country currently.