The Fundamental Rights are the basic right of every citizen of India as described in the Constitution of India and one of them also say that every Indian has a Freedom of ‘Speech’ and ‘Expression’. Is it so, or maybe not in the prevailing scenarios, or maybe the right is being misinterpreted. The context of this right came in the discussion when on Thursday evening a Facebook page named the ‘Humans of Hindutva‘ that parodied right-wing fundamentalism and its proponents, was taken down.
The page was inspired by a New York page named ‘Humans of New York’ with its admin as Brandon Stanton. The ‘Humans of Hindutva regularly posted satirical comments on right-wing fundamentalism, current events, casteism, moral policing, gau rakshaks attacks, and other political issues that are trending in India. The admin decided to take down the page after he received death threats. He published a note on the administrator’s website where it was written that since he was receiving death threats he was taking down the Facebook page ‘Humans of Hindutva’.
“I’m quitting out of my own accord. I’ve not been banned or mass reported. I have recently received some threats to my life which I can’t take lightly. I am outnumbered, live in a BJP state and come from a middle-class family with no political or police connections. I have no desire to end up like Gauri Lankesh or Afrazul Khan. Actually, more than myself I worry for the safety of my family. I hope those who threatened me consider this as a victory and leave us alone. I have deleted the HOH page and will delete this website soon. Congratulations to Hindutva for winning this David vs. Goliath fight. As for those who were kind enough to lend me their ears for the last eight months, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Cheers and Alvida. Thanks for giving me some of your time,” he wrote.
This is not the first time that the admin had closed the page, the page was created in April and only months after it was started, earlier in September also he had taken down the page but resumed hours after it as he received numerous messages from his followers to continue. In September he had written, it was not worth taking a bullet for and hence he was calling it off. However, when he resumed in a statement to the press the admin had said that “I guess to stop now would be to play into the hands of the fascists I despise so I guess I’ll keep this going for a little longer.” But the little longer lasted for only a few months as he officially closed the page again on December 28.
After the series of events in September and taking off the page and then resuming it again, he had in his statement to the media in October written that “I have received so many death threats that I have lost count. I have had so many strangers abuse my family that it doesn’t even rattle me anymore. I have had several people threaten to take me to court or file an FIR. All this for the simple crime of running a satirical page which takes pot shots at Hindutva (not Hinduism) and the politicians who cater to it.”
Talking about from where he got the idea of creating the page, the admin who has kept his identity hidden said that one night in April he returned home drunk after a heated argument with one of his nationalist friends and decided to create a public page to frame his absurd arguments. He cited that even though he was drunk, but somehow he had the sense of keeping his identity hidden and he uplifted the format from the very popular ‘Humans of New York’ page and named it the ‘Humans of Hindutva. The page picked momentum almost instantaneously.
Reliving the short tenure of the page that it lasted, he said that after creating the page, he realized within days that how deep the rabbit holes of social media were. He began getting death threats within months and strangers started abusing his family members. He even got threats to be taken to the court and FIRs to be lodged against him and all this for what…running a page which expressed the views of the people that took pot shots at the so-called Hindutva and the politicians following it. He also quoted Michael Moore the documentary filmmaker, saying that “You can’t debate satire. Either you get it or you don’t.”
Talking about the ideology that almost every Hindu in India believes or is made to believe that if anyone is talking about Hindutva, that person is Muslim supporter. Further adding he said that talking against the Bhartiya Janta Party who is busy coloring India saffron means, the person is a Congress supporter or is being paid to do so. But does anyone pay heed to the fact that it is not always about Hindu or Muslim or BJP or Congress, sometimes it is also about humanity and what is right and what should be done not just for political gains but for the betterment of the people? Rightly said by him that “Unfortunately, doing political satire is difficult in India because most Indians would rather get offended than ‘get it’.”
That is exactly what the admin of the page of Human of Hindutva wanted to convey through the page. He said that he did not earn a single rupee from the page, nor did he dedicate some special time to write on the page, it was just a part of him that found out time in the busy traffic or waiting in queue to express his feelings for the fast dying feeling of humanism.
“As for political affiliations, I have said multiple times that my only intention or agenda in running HOH is to make my message of humanism reach as many people as possible. I don’t think any political party is without blemishes, but I do think some ideas are more dependable than others. As a patriot, I stand by only one holy book: our constitution, which had the foresight and wisdom to see all Indians as equal,” as quoted by the admin of HOH.
This is the core reality that India is going through today, killings on the name of Gau Raksha, hate speeches, love jihad, everything has become a game of loss and profit for the political parties. If the ruling party proposes any bill which may be good, is opposed by the opposition party because it is their duty to do so. The political parties remain mum on critical issues like love jihad and cow lynchings, on the fear of losing their vote banks. If they speak in favor of the Hindus, they lose the vote of the minorities and if they speak in favor of the minorities, they lose the majority votes – the Hindus.
Just yesterday the Triple Talaq bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha, which criminalizes the practice of giving divorce to a Muslim woman by saying the word ‘talaq’ three times. The Muslim husband who does so will be sent to jail for three years with a charge od non-bailable offense. The bill no doubt is good for the Muslim women who suffer the atrocities from their husbands and live in the fear of being divorced just by saying talaq three times. But as is the work of the opposition, it opposed the bill. The argument put forth was, they do not oppose the bill are just not in the favor of the clause of three-year imprisonment. So here another question arises that even if something good is being done, the political parties will find ways to prove it wrong and hamper its course. It is all about the gains of the parties and not about the welfare of the people, or so it seems to be in India.
Recently there was a statement made by a Congress leader that BJP has come to power to change the constitution and will do so if the need be. This statement was made in wake of including the word Secular and Socialist in the Preamble of India. This is not the first time that this debate has begun, ever since the words were included in 1975 during the emergency when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister this has been a major issue. But looking at the prevailing condition is India really a secular country, why not just remove the word and make it official known that India is a Hindu country.
The incidents of love jihad are not hidden from anyone, but no political party dares to interfere, why, only on the pretext of losing their precious vote banks. The recent case of Rajasthan where Afrazul Khan a migrant worker from West Bengal was burnt alive by a man in Rajsamand for being in a relationship with Hindu women. This was not just it, some of the Hindu organizations even collected funds and deposited three lakh rupees in the account of the wife of the man who killed Afrazul. But no political party intervened.
The Rajasthan High court in mid-December ruled that anyone wanting to change their religion would have their name put up on a government notice board for a week and people would be allowed to file objections before permission was granted. SO where is the freedom of practice religion as inscribed in the Constitution of India?
There are many such cases where nobody wants to take any initiatives and the community organizations take advantage of this turning the course of events in their favor. And if anyone dares to speak against such incidents they are labeled as anti-Hindutva and meets are given death threats. If they continue to raise voices they either meet the fate of Gauri Lankesh or decision like closing the social site pages like Humans of Hindutva are taken.
How safe are the journalists or the people raising voices against the superpowers in India?