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Right-wing trolls accuse Muslims of ‘NEET jihad’ in Kerala

By Mehboob Ali

Over the past few years, hate speech targeting Muslims has become rampant on social media platforms including on X, formerly Twitter. The recent hate campaign, fuelled by the Hindu right wing against Muslims, is in the context of the alleged paper leak in the recent NEET-UG examination, titled ‘NEET jihad’.

Several right-wing trolls on social media allege ‘NEET jihad’ in the state of Kerala and accuse Muslims of being beneficiaries of the alleged paper leak.

An image of a newspaper advertisement shared by several right-wing trolls is going viral on social media. With most individuals featured in the advertisement appearing to be Muslims, the captions claim that Muslims orchestrated the paper leak in the NEET-UG exam.

MS Education Academy

The particular advertisement featured students of Universal Institute, an entrance coaching centre based in the Malappuram district of Kerala. The institute was established in the 2000s to provide professional NEET and other competitive entrance exam coaching to the students of the socially and economically backward Malabar region.

As per the 2011 census, Muslims constitute 70 percent of the district’s population. Speaking to Siasat.com over the allegation of ‘NEET jihad’, the institute’s principal, Prof. Abdul Hameed, stated that the centre has students from all religious backgrounds, and a majority of students belong to the Muslim community.

“The image is from our NEET toppers’ advertisement, there are students from all communities, including Muslim and Hindu students. The majority of them are Muslim students from neighbouring regions. We have this result every year. We had it for the last 24 years. This year, someone tried linking it to the NEET scam and it’s fake,” the principal told Siasat.com, adding that a complaint was filed with the Malappuram superintendent of police on Wednesday, July 3.

The institution has a good track record of promoting educational activities in the previously educationally backward region of Kerala. Speaking to Siasat.com, Gokul TG, a former student of the institute, dismissed the allegations of “NEET jihad”.

“They (the coaching institute) will not check if you are a Muslim or not. As long as you are capable, they keep motivating you,” he said.

The image with claims of ‘NEET jihad’ was shared by right-wing journalists, including Sudarshan News owner Suresh Chavhanke who stands fourth in the list of the top 5 sources of hate speech against Muslims according to an India Hate Lab (IHL) report released earlier this year.

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