The hashtag #DanceJihad was trending on Twitter on April 9, after a Kerala High Court lawyer gave a communal angle to a viral dance video by two students of Kerala's Thrissur Medical College. The hashtag was mostly shared by those coming in support of the students, Janaki M Omkumar and Naveen K Razak.
The video was uploaded by Razak on Instagram - where the duo could be seen dancing off to Boney M's Rasputin. The song had recently gone viral around the world on video sharing app Tik Tok, with users dancing off to the hit 70's disco track.
The video got immense support from social media users - on Instagram it received more than 5 lakh likes.
Weeks later, on April 8, Krishna Raj - an attorney at Kerala High Court, and a right-wing sympathiser - shared the screenshot from the video with a caption that cast suspicion on the fact that a Muslim boy was dancing with a Hindu girl.
The post read, "Janaki and Naveen. The dance by two medical students in Thrissur Medical College is going viral. Janaki M Omkumar and Naveen K Razak are the two students. I smell something wrong here. Janaki's parents should be careful. And if they are careful, they won't have to be sorry later, as Nimisha's mother has proven. Let's pray for Janaki's father Omkumar and his wife."
Nimisha in Raj's post is in reference to a student of dentistry from Thiruvananthapuram, who had later changed her name to Fathima after converting to Islam, following her marriage to Esa, a Muslim convert from Christianity.
Nimisha had left the country to join the Islamic State, by fleeing to Afghanistan. They were later rounded up by Afghan agencies, after which they expressed their wish to return home. In 2018, her mother Bindu Sampath had filed a writ petition in Kerala High Court requesting help from the Central government in rescuing her daughter and her infant baby from ISIS.
Raj's post garnered a lot of attention on social media as well. While there were many who came in support, the overwhelming response to his Facebook post was that of disapproval.
Among the 34,000 reactions the video got, more than 20,000 were that of anger.
In response to the negativity they received, Razak and Omkumar said that they are not bothered. "We are new generation," they said in a comment to Asianet.
Twitter users also came out in support of the medical students, and started trending the hashtag #DanceJihad to mock the right-wing take on the viral video.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also took to Twitter to support the duo. "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," he wrote.
The Kerala wing of IMA-Medical Students' Network also put out a solidarity post on Facebook, to stand in support of Omkumar and Razak. "Medical college campuses are a place where all the religious, caste, gender differences created by man become completely irrelevant. It reminds us that we are behaving, interacting, thinking and speaking human beings. Solidarity with both and those who are to come," their statement read.