One of the pleas, seeking independent enquiries in Dubey’s murder reads “dismantle the system of criminal justice.” I have been feeling the same for quite sometime now. With every netizen with an active internet pack deciding how actions need to be reprimanded, how justice should be effectively delivered to all parties, do we really need a strenuous system of courts deciding the breakdown of complicated laws?
Shubham Mishra (age unknown, but a wise old man to some) decided the most befitting response to a comedian’s take on Shivaji’s statue. Wait, it wasn’t even that. It was her research process of knowing more about the said immortalisation of Shivaji that she dared to make fun of. Our protagonist, true to his questionable upbringing, declared how rape is the only suitable punishment for such a crime.
The video in question is a year old, but it generated traction and limelight two days ago. As a direct impact of #BadassShubham’s video, some local goons decided to wreck (and record the said destruction) Habitat Comedy Club, where the comedy act was recorded. In the eyes of our dear fanatic fiends, this is only partial justice delivered since “ladies log ko lekar aao.” Personally, even while I shiver and write this piece, I am considering if I should mention the name of the comedian at all. Does she really need more people knowing her name at this point? Or if I am adding to her woes? We will decide as we go. However, the question on everyone’s mind remained, will there be accountability of any sort?
The comedian released a video, apologising to RSS, Congress, NCP, and CMO (Maharashtra) for offending their sentiments with a joke, that logically doesn’t even target Shivaji. Apologies, Shivaji Maharaj. A large number of people on Twitter and Instagram (the High Courts of justice at this point) joined the wildfire, asking the female comedian to be tried in court. The irony remains that Shubham Mishra attracts section 503, 506 and 509 under the IPC for his vicious statements and rape threats endangering the dignity of a woman. But like most stories, the debate stayed strong.
Will an online movement against sick heads like Shubham Mishra achieve the desired result of making them an example of polarised views being punished or will the blame fall on an artist’s creative freedom? If we are really honest, freedom, since 2014, remains a negotiable right amidst us, unless you’re a wealthy Brahmin/Hindu in this country.
A less unknown video captures Sorabh Pant (another comedian, this article is blasphemy for most) and Devdutt Pattanaik, a well-known mythologist and author, discussing how to bridge the gap between extremists and liberals. A very solid argument from Devdutt says how intellectualism and dialogue, which are first-hand tools for resolving issues in a civil manner, aren’t the go-to options on one side. How can you really expect a caveman to understand the concept of facts, discussions and debates? He knows he will lose arguments to a civilised society, hence violence becomes his go-to tool. Shubham Mishra represents the cavemen community. They can’t do better because they don’t know any better. If you give a working phone to a monkey and then wonder at him misdialing numbers, maybe you’re the one with faultlines in expectations.
What is it that we can alter then? Will these half-formed humans continue to rule, while we wonder if Franklin J. Schaffner was really playing Nostradamus with his The Planet of The Apes series? Or is there still hope? For me, while I wake up to optimism of sun rays and chirping birds, these incidents push my limits on optimism.
Slacktivism on the internet is sometimes similar to juggling. You respond to your DMs, report a few stories, express your thoughts and that’s it. New day, new stories. The worst aspect remains the validation they receive from fellow netizens who justify actions and go nothing short of “Veer tum aage bado, hum tumhare saath hai.” While the internet might be effective in spreading information, how much pressure it put on the authorities remains hazy. However, I gave a schoolgirl squeal when Vadodara police decided to nab this 26-year-old “social worker” for rape threats addressing the comedian. It was a record-worthy arrest made by Gujarat Police, of all states, that deserved an applause.
But are similar cases dealt with the same swift? Rarely. This breed of pests seem to be popping every nook and corner. Most of the times our police system is left balancing the fulcrum, deciding who they can offend this time. Netizens or the community on fire. Most episodes of the said genre result in rape threats, specially to female comedians who are never spared, or self attested visas to Pakistan for the male comedians. It’s hilarious that these are the same hate mongers who demand “fresh content” from these comedians without an ounce of tolerance or a sense of humour. Youtube and Instagram allowed, and mind you, still continues to allow hate speeches of the sort on their platforms. Trimming content has been on debate with Twitter censoring tweets by Trump. These “influencers” with propaganda of hatred are essentially the easiest variety to quash. Believe me, no one will miss them. As for Agrima’s apology, it’s sad that she had to do it under an environment of pure threat and goonda raj, but can we really blame her? And yes, the comedian is called Agrima Joshua, her name isn’t the one that should be shying away from limelight.