Hashtags calling for boycott of products endorsed by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, along with his films, have been trending on Twitter since Sunday evening. This is coupled with yet another hashtag in Hindi, which called Khan a traitor.
A closer look at the accounts trending, along with the handles being tagged, indicates that the hashtags are being led by Indian right-wing accounts, with some of them having links to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
These hashtags are being trended in the backdrop of the narcotics case being faced by Khan's son Aryan Khan, following a high-profile raid in a luxury cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai.
On Monday morning Twitter showed thousands of tweets being posted with this hashtag, with users calling a boycott on Khan and posting images of brands endorsed by him.
The trend started a day after right-wing channel Sudarshan News founder Suresh Chavhanke called for the boycott of a list of companies endorsed by Khan.
BOOM scraped all the tweets with this hashtag, and was able to retrieve only 703 tweets, indicating that the rest of the tweets were either removed by Twitter as spam, or deleted by the users themselves after the trend became viral.
We observed that over 151 tweets out the 703 that we scraped had tagged the handle @beingarun28, which belongs to Arun Yadav - the state in-charge of BJP Haryana's IT cell.
Yadav had tweeted out on October 9 on this topic, where he claimed to boycott all brands endorsed by Khan.
Yadav has been frequently involved in leading hashtags to top trends, with this over 400,000 followers on Twitter. BOOM had earlier reported on him leading a boycott on another Bollywood actor Radhika Apte, after photos of her performing an intimate scene in Leena Yadav's 2015 film Parched became viral on the internet.
We also noticed some coordinated activities - mostly comprising of identically composed tweets being shared by multiple accounts.
On such text claimed that Khan was a friend of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. Some of the tweets also claimed that Khan is an agent of the Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The posts shared an old photo of Khan with the Pakistani prime minister.
This hashtag went viral simultaneously as the the one calling for boycott of Khan. For this trend, we were able to scrape 2362 tweets.
This hashtag was kickstarted by Chahvanke as well, who had tweeted out the hashtag on Monday morning at 8.49 am. Chahvanke was one of the first verified handles to tweet out the hashtag.
Similar to the other hashtag, this one too had Arun Yadav's handle tagged multiple times - BOOM found his handle being mentioned in at least 230 tweets out of the 2362 tweets we scraped.
We detected instances of coordinated activity with this trend as well. Over 100 tweets were found claiming that Khan is a follower of Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, and shared a 2010 television appearance by the two together along with other Bollywood starts on NDTV.
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