(Adds threat to stores; paragraphs 1-7)
By Alasdair Pal
NEW DELHI / AHMEDABAD, India, October 14 (Reuters) – An affiliate of India’s telecommunications tea group Tata has withdrawn a jewelry ad featuring a Hindu-Muslim family celebrating a baby shower, following threats against the one of his stores and many reviews on social media.
Muslims make up around 15% of India’s 1.3 billion people, most of whom are Hindus, and marriages between the two communities are still taboo in some areas.
Tanishq, a jewelry company and a unit of Titan Company Ltd., controlled by Tata, ran the ad in its “Ekatvam,” or unity campaign, showing a Hindu bride and her Muslim in-laws holding a shower. baby in the Hindu tradition.
Staff at Tanishq jewelry store in the town of Gandhidham, western Gujarat, on Wednesday told Reuters they had posted an apology outside the store after hundreds of threatening calls.
“The Tanishq announcement that appears in the media today is shameful,” read Monday’s note, written in Gujarati, the official language. “Gandhidham Tanishq asks forgiveness from the entire Hindu community in Kutch district.”
Although some people went to the store to ask for an apology for the announcement, police official Mayur Patil told Reuters there were no physical threats.
“They received a lot of phone calls because of the announcement, but there were no attacks or looting,” added Patil, a police commissioner in the area. “The police are present at the store and the store is functioning.”
Calls to boycott the company over the publicity were in vogue on social media Tuesday, with some accusing him of promoting “Love Jihad,” a reference to the idea of a plot by Muslims to forcibly convert them. Hindu women.
In a statement Tuesday night, Tanishq said he had withdrawn the film due to “hurt feelings and the well-being of our employees, partners and store staff.”
The pullout has also prompted criticism that the company is bowing to extremists.
“His surrender highlights the pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation that some have unleashed in the country,” said Shashi Tharoor, a prominent opposition lawmaker.
“I never thought I would see a day when spreading community hatred is the new normal.”
Founded in 1868, Tata is one of India’s largest and best-known companies, with dozens of companies ranging from chemicals to consulting.
In the last general election of 2019, Tata was the largest donor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party, according to public documents. It was also the largest donor to the main opposition party in Congress.
Modi’s critics say India’s long-standing tradition of celebrating diversity has come under attack since Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in 2014. The party denies this, saying it has empowered minority groups.
In 2019, an advertisement for Unilever (LON 🙂 ‘s Surf detergent which promoted Hindu-Muslim unity also sparked a backlash.