Indian deputy IT minister investigated over social media post after attack on Jehovah’s Witnesses

Indian deputy IT minister investigated over social media post after attack on Jehovah’s Witnesses

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (Reuters): Police in Kerala opened an investigation against India’s deputy minister of Information Technology on Tuesday for allegedly stirring religious hatred on social media after bomb blasts at a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention in the southern state.

Homemade bombs exploded, killing three people and wounding 50 in the attack on Sunday that targeted a three-day event organised by the Christian-based religious movement a few miles northeast of the city of Kochi.

More than 2,000 people were attending the convention in the state, where the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strong presence.

Police arrested a man after he posted a video claiming responsibility for the attack, accusing the religious group of being anti-national.

Hours after the blasts, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government condemned the blast in a post on social media that went on to accuse Kerala’s ruling Communist party of appeasing radical organisations such as the Palestinian Islamist militant group, Hamas.

Chandrashekhar used former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s 2011 quote “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. You know, eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard” and used hashtags #HamasTerrorists and #KochiTerrorAttacks.

Last week the former head of Hamas, Khaled Mashal, virtually addressed a rally organised by a local Muslim group in Kerala calling for solidarity with Gaza, media reported.

Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Modi’s Hindu nationalist party was trying to destabilise the state, home to millions of Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Vijayan said Chandrashekhar’s allegations that the Kerala government permitted protests against Israel were false.

Chandrashekhar’s aide told Reuters the criminal case filed by the Kerala police would be addressed by the minister’s lawyer.