Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (middle) during a press conference in Afghanistan, on 17 August 2021 | Twitter/@paykhar
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (middle) during a press conference in Afghanistan, on 17 August 2021 | Twitter/@paykhar
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Bengaluru: There is a new destination for Indians who criticise Hindutva or the Narendra Modi government. Not Pakistan, it is now ‘GoToAfghanistan’. That’s what one week of Taliban has achieved for many.

With the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the world of politics and Twitter seems to be undergoing a churning. Those who were earlier insisting that people critical of the Indian government must #GoToPakistan, now say that Afghanistan would be the more apropos destination.

Take Madhya Pradesh BJP leader Ramratan Payal, for instance. After Payal was questioned by a journalist over rising fuel prices, he urged them to “Go to Taliban”.

“Petrol is being sold at Rs 50/litre in Afghanistan. Go and refill your petrol there (Afghanistan), where nobody is there to refill the fuel. At least here (India) we have safety,” he said.

Payal’s colleague in Bihar also had a similar opinion. Hari Bhushan Thakur Bachaul, a BJP MLA from Bisfi, reportedly said those who were unhappy in India should “go to Afghanistan”.

“If the people of this country aren’t cautious India will become Afghanistan… it will become Taliban,” Bachaul went on to say Wednesday.

Then came Twitter users like Zee News anchor Sudhir Chaudhary, who told others to go spend some time in Afghanistan if they were so impressed with the Taliban’s press conference.

“Some people in India are celebrating Taliban 2.0, their liberal policies on free press and women. They should go and spend some time in Afghanistan. Kuch hi din guzariye Afghanistan mein (spend a few days in Afghanistan),” Chaudhary wrote. His tweet was in response to several Twitter users who, in a dig at PM Modi, had pointed out that “even Taliban is taking unscripted questions from the press”.

#GoToAfghanistan

And just like that, the Twitter world was swayed and #GoToAfghanistan became the flavour of the day. The hashtag became a trending topic in India this week. According to BrandMentions, the hashtag was mentioned 501 times on Twitter since 19 August.

And the sentiments are more or less the same across the board.

“Anyone who wants sharia in India should #gotoafghanistan,” wrote one Twitter user.

“In India those who were thinking or thought that India’s democracy is in danger can pave their way to Afghanistan. #gotoafghanistan,” wrote another.

The hashtag was also used to protest against poet Munawwar Rana, who has been criticised for comparing the Taliban to Valmiki.

Rana recently told a TV channel, “Valmiki became a God after he wrote the Ramayana, before that he was a dacoit. A person’s character can change. Similarly, the Taliban, for now, are terrorists but people and characters change.”

An FIR was lodged against him.

Twitter users also lambasted him by saying, “So what’s stopping Shayari chor #MunnawarRana for going to Afghanistan #Gotoafghanistan.”

Memes, tweets and questions

Many have, however, questioned this rising trend and hashtag. Mohamed Zeeshan, foreign affairs writer, tweeted saying, “Hindutva trolls be saying ‘go to this country, go to that country’ – like as if the Indian passport affords people unimpeded travel freedom. #gotoafghanistan.”

The DeshBhakt, a satire platform run by Akash Banerjee, also tweeted about the absurdity of the hashtag. And created a meme on it.

 

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A post shared by The DeshBhakt (@akashbanerjee.in)

Cartoonist Sajith Kumar drew a cartoon on the trend for Deccan Herald based on BJP leader Ramratan Payal’s comments.

In a week, #GoToAfghanistan seems to have overtaken #GoToPakistan for many Indian social media users and politicians.

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