New Delhi: Using dance as a medium of solidarity, medical students across Kerala rallied behind students Naveen K. Razak and Janaki Omkumar, whose viral dance video has come under communal attack.
On 23 March, Razak had uploaded a video on Instagram where Omkumar and he can be seen dancing to the song ‘Rasputin‘ by the Euro-Caribbean band Boney M, as part of the popular Rasputin challenge that is sweeping social media across the world.
The video soon went viral, garnering over six lakh likes, and both the medical students were praised for their attempt to lift spirits amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, soon enough, the two students who hail from Thrissur Medical College were subjected to communal attacks, purportedly because Razak’s name suggests that he is Muslim.
In support of Razak and Omkumar, other medical students began uploading their own dance videos to the tune of ‘Rasputin‘.
These videos have since been re-shared on Twitter under the hashtag #StepWithRasputin and have also been collated on Instagram by student political organisation SFI’s Cochin University of Science and Technology wing.
— Cow Momma (@Cow__Momma) April 10, 2021
#StepWithRasputin dance by CUSAT SFI.
In protest against Communalism spewed by the Right Wing against the dance of two medical students.
Kerala fighting Sanghis and communalism like it always does — in style. pic.twitter.com/M5gf3IigU2
— Advaid അദ്വൈത് (@Advaidism) April 10, 2021
Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, also praised the students for their creative show of solidarity.
In a Twitter thread Friday, Tharoor said, “These kids deserve applause and encouragement, instead of the Hindutva venom being spewed at them because of their different religions. They ooze both talent & comradeship, the best of Young India. And they will make empathetic doctors one day!”
These kids deserve applause and encouragement, instead of the Hindutva venom being spewed at them because of their different religions. They ooze both talent & comradeship, the best of Young India. And they will make empathetic doctors one day! #Respect #Applause #DanceIsNotJihad https://t.co/H6hXYhlgmS
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) April 9, 2021
Motive behind dance questioned by social media users
Days after the video went viral, some social media users questioned the motive behind the dance. The hashtag #DanceJihad was also trending on Twitter Friday after a Kerala High Court lawyer appeared to give communal colour to the video, with tweets mostly in support of the two students.
In a Facebook post, advocate Krishna Raj said, “I smell something wrong here. Janaki’s parents should be careful. And if they are careful, they won’t have to be sorry later.”
Raj also referred to another case where a dentistry student allegedly changed her name from Nimisha to Fathima after marrying a Muslim man, and later left the country to join ISIS.
“Let’s pray for Janaki’s father Omkumar and his wife,” the advocate added in his post, which has since been shared several times.
Razak, however, reportedly responded to the communal criticism by saying that he is “not bothered” by it.
“We are the new generation,” he said in an interview with Asianet Friday.
(Edited by Rachel John)