Several Indians are urging people to speak with the country's Muslims. Here's what triggered the hashtag.

India trends #TalktoAMuslim to highlight growing Islamophobia and Hindu-Muslim divide.
India trends #TalktoAMuslim to highlight growing Islamophobia and Hindu-Muslim divide. (Reuters)

It started when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi for calling his Congress a "Muslim party," during a meeting with Muslims leaders and activists.

BJP quoted an Urdu daily Inquilab – which reported the meeting on July 12 – and accused Gandhi of oft-repeated Muslim appeasement to garner minority votes ahead of the 2019 national election.

The Congress leader and the Urdu newspaper rubbished BJP claims, but the politics over the Hindu-Muslim divide in India culminated on Tuesday in a hashtag #TalktoAMuslim.

Since India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power last year, the country's Muslims have expressed growing concerns about a spate of inflammatory statements made by Hindu nationalist leaders and activists.

Hindu activists have in recent years held what they call large "ghar wapsi," or homecomings, to convert people to Hinduism.

Groups of Hindu vigilantes have grabbed headlines for assaulting or lynching Muslims accused of harming cows, an animal held sacred in Hinduism.

On Tuesday, India's Supreme Court asked the government to enact a new law and stem what it called "horrendous acts" of lynching in India.

Opposition groups have criticised Modi for failing to speak up against the violence targeting Muslims, accusing his party of a sectarian bias.

Muslims make up about 14 percent of India's 1.3 billion population.

There are many, however, who say hashtags like #TalkToAMuslim are "unnecessary", "disgusting", or "demeaning" to Indian Muslims. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies