Delhi: Police complaint against standup comedian Vir Das for ‘maligning India’s image’

Another police complaint has been lodged against Vir Das in Delhi by one Aditya Jha, said to be a BJP member 

Police complaint against standup comedian Vir Das for ‘maligning India’s image’

Another police complaint has been lodged against Vir Das accusing him of ‘maligning India’s image’ via a monologue titled I come from two Indias that he performed recently at the at John F Kennedy Center in Washington DC. This complaint has been filed in Delhi by one Aditya Jha, who has been identified by media reports as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member.

Jha has accused Das of allegedly using derogatory statements against women and India in the said monologue, a video of which was uploaded to YouTube by Das. The complaint was filed for his comment, “In India, we worship women in the day and rape them at night.” 

Jha lodged his complaint in the New Delhi district on Tuesday night, and it reportedly states, “He (Das) says in the video… ‘In India, we worship women in the day and rape them at night’. These derogatory statements against women and India are inflammatory. They were made in the US and malign the image of our country internationally. I want police to conduct an investigation.” 

This is the second complaint filed against the artist; the first was in Mumbai by Advocate Ashutosh Dubey who identifies himself as a legal advisor of Bharatiya Janata Party-Maharashtra Palghar District. He accused Das of “defaming & spoiling the image of India in the USA, which is inflammatory”, and filed the complaint against him with the Mumbai Police. 



Das posted a note on Twitter explaining the act was not intended to insult the country but was “a satire about the duality of two very separate India’s that do different things. Like any nation has light and dark, good and evil within it. None of this is a secret. The video appeals to us to never forget that we are great. To never stop focusing on what makes us great.” He added that the video “ends in a gigantic patriotic round of applause for a country we all love, believe in, and are proud of” and appealed to the people not to be “fooled by edited snippets… I take pride in my country, and I carry that pride across the world.”



As police complaints are now being filed against him, Vir Das has joined the ranks of other artists such as Munawar Faruqui and  Kunal Kamra who have faced some of the worst attacks. Last month Bajrang Dal members travelled all the way from Gujarat to Mumbai to threaten venue owners against hosting Faruqui’s scheduled stand-up comedy shows. The shows were to take place on October 29 at the hall in Borivali (West) and on October 30 and 31 at Rangsharda auditorium in Bandra (West). Faruqui tweeted on October 27 that the Mumbai shows scheduled for October 29, 30 and 31 have been cancelled as “the safety of the audience is what matters most to me. I don’t want my audience to go through what I am experiencing.” Faruqui was arrested earlier this year on charges of hurting religious sentiments at a show in Indore based on a complaint filed by Eklavya Singh Gaur, chief of Hindutva organisation Hind Rakshak Sangathan. The audience’s retelling of the incident indicated that the joke was never told in the first place and Faruqui was incarcerated without cause. Faruqui was granted ad-interim bail by the Supreme Court on February 5 while observing that neither the precedent laid down in the 2014 Supreme Court judgment (Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar) was followed, nor the procedure under section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was complied with.

In February, a Session Court in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, admitted a revision petition filed against a Magistrate court’s order dismissing a criminal complaint filed for registration of FIR against comedian Kunal Kamra, for allegedly insulting the Indian flag. The comedian had tweeted a picture of a saffron coloured Supreme Court of India, replacing the National Flag with the flag of a Political Party. The Court of Additional Sessions Judge Anuradha Kushwaha issued a notice on the revision petition on February 11, 2021. Saurabh Tiwari, the petitioner had approached the Court of Magistrate stating that Kamra’s actions hurt the feelings of the people of this country and cause “contempt and disrepute” to the Indian National Flag. Further, he was aggrieved by the non-registration of an FIR by the local Police. In November Attorney General K K Venugopal had consented to the initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra for a series of tweets following the apex court granting interim bail to Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.

In 2019, stand-up comic artiste Agrima Joshua received rape threats and was abused online after an old video of her performance in 2019 surfaced in which she made a joke about the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Arabian sea. The comedian had to later apologise for her comments.

Where does the law stand on your “objectionable” posts on social media?

SabrangIndia had done a deep dive into sections of the IPC that talks about printing or engraving any defamatory matter, and the problems associated. What is the literal interpretation of the term ‘objectionable’ and how does one establish that an objectionable image defames a person to such capacity, that penal action becomes inescapable? 

Terrorised by trolls, comedians apologise for hurting religious sentiments. Many comedians have reported in the past that their numbers and addresses had been leaked and that they were getting threats to life and that of their families too. Agrima Joshua had it worse due to her gender. She faced rape threats and verbal abuse two years ago, for joking about the misinformation surrounding the statue of Shivaji Maharaj, that she encountered on a QnA platform by one Shubham Mishra. It opened the floodgates for hatred for right-wing trolls who followed in his footsteps and unleashed an organised attack against her on social media, forcing her to apologize for her video and take it down from all platforms.

The pattern of hate spread by right-wing trolls has now become very predictable and racial slurs, communal slurs, rape threats and threats to life are all part of the mix. Now, it has moved on to police complaints and cases being filed against them.



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