A video purportedly from Al-Qaeda’s South Asia arm named India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a foe for the first time.
“The battle we are waging is the same — be it against drones, Charlie Hebdo’s writings, the policies of IMF and World Bank, oppression of Muslims or Narendra Modi’s blood-spitting tongue,” said a voice allegedly belonging to Asim Umar, head of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.
Indian authorities are trying to authenticate the video posted online on May 2, said a government official who asked not to be identified amid the investigation. Jagdish Thakkar, a spokesman in Modi’s office, didn’t answer two calls to his mobile on Monday, a public holiday in India.
Modi, whose Hindu-dominated party swept to power last May on a campaign pledging jobs and development, has faced criticism for his handling of attacks against Muslims and Christians. His administration last week dismissed a US Congressional report that said minorities have been subjected to “violent attacks” and “forced conversions” over the past year.
Just months after Modi took charge, Al-Qaeda announced operations in the nation that’s home to the third-largest Muslim population. Fringe Hindu groups have also since called for mass conversions of minorities, which caused an uproar in parliament with lawmakers refusing to debate key economic bills.
Modi has maintained that his government is working toward “development for all,” irrespective of religion or caste. He has also repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in allegations that he failed to stop anti-Muslim riots in 2002 as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.
In its video, titled “From France to Bangladesh: The Dust will Never Settle Down,” Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the murder of four Bangladeshi bloggers, including Avijit Roy, the American writer hacked to death in Dhaka in February for blogging about atheism and religious freedom.