In the India of 2020, even the banal can become dangerous – if it offends majoritarian sentiment. Earlier this week, Tanishq, a high-end jewelry company released an ad that showed a baby shower thrown for a soon-to-be mother by her in-laws. Saccharine sweet, the ad would have passed by unnoticed, except that it touched a raw nerve for many of India’s angry Hindu nationalists. The problem: the marriage shown was inter-religious. The wife was Hindu, the husband, Muslim.

The internet exploded with violent trolling that is now almost a weekly occurrence in India. Also following a well-worn template, the trolling soon spilled over into real life. One Twitter use, Hardik Bhavsar, released private details of a Muslim employee of the Tanishq media team, exhorting his 1.2 lakh followers with the words: “now you all know what to do”. This wasn’t a threat to be taken lightly: Bhavsar is important enough to be followed by the Indian prime minister.

In Gujart, a group of men forced the employees of one Tanishq showroom to display an apology to the “Hindus of Kutch” for its “shameful” advertisement, the Indian Express reported.

The opposition wasn’t limited to pressure of this sort. The pro-government magazine Swarajya claimed that the reaction...

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