This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Prityush Sharma. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Do Public Safety Laws Not Include Protecting Agrima Joshua And Shaheen Bhatt From Death Threats?

More from Prityush Sharma

Romesh Thapar, a well-known Indian journalist and communist, was the first to file a petition in the Supreme Court of India, arguing that his ‘fundamental right to speech and expression’ is being violated. In 1950, the Madras government banned the circulation of Thapar’s English weekly leftist journal known as Crossroads. The government cited that they are doing so to ensure public safety and maintain public order.

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Madras government, stating that the ban is being put on the journal to ensure public safety, which can be considered a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech. The question remains: what is public safety and from whom are we protecting the public?

On the same day, the ‘Brij Bhushan vs. the State of Delhi’ case focused on censorship of a weekly journal called the Organizer before its publication. In this case, the Supreme Court struck down the state’s demand, mentioning that the liberty of freedom of the press is a violation of freedom of speech and expression.

What is public safety and from whom do we need safety. Aren’t Agrima and Alia a part of public, and don’t they require safety?

India has been a free country for more than 72 years now. The fundamental rights listed in our Constitution are still prevalent and followed. In 2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accused former Orissa High Court judge IM Quddusi and six others in a medical college scam. They were charged with criminal conspiracy and corruption for getting the verdict settled in the High Court. Interestingly, the Delhi government restrained media houses from publishing or reporting any news about the case. They were only allowed to notify the court proceedings.

This is just one of the many cases. There are many such cases where media rights were violated, resulting in the violation of the freedom of speech and expression of the press. These cases were handled by higher authorities, which every citizen believes in and looks forward to in India. But what about the cases that do not go to the Supreme Court?

A very recent case that took place and also concerns the ideal topic of freedom of speech is the case of Mumbai-based standup comedian Agrima Joshua. In 2019, she made a joke on the leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The video became viral a few days ago and has now been deleted, owing to the hatred received from Shivaji Maharaj’s followers. The joke also covered PM Narendra Modi and the Maharashtra government.

As if the hatred for the comedian and the joke was not enough, people started to post rape threats to her on social media.

Social media has become a platform where people exercise their full right to say or post anything. People no longer have a hold on social media, it’s the other way round; social media has a grasp on people. This posting and sharing of views and ideology are only correct until and unless they do not get bifurcated into hate and threats. If you don’t like a video, you didn’t like her joke, don’t follow her or listen to her. These death and rape threats are absurd. I feel it is unhealthy, and I am exercising my freedom of speech and expression by writing about it.

Freedom of speech is not about saying anything, it’s about saying the right thing. There’s a reason we are taught what to speak and when to speak from the first time we are born. It depends on us how we exercise our rights when we grow up.

After Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, many celebrities have been receiving hate and are being unfollowed, which is fine. You don’t like a particular person, you don’t follow them. But the things that strike me the most are threat messages and heart-wrenching comments. Alia Bhatt’s sister, Shaheen Bhatt, posted screenshots that mentioned people giving her and her family death and rape threats. It does not account for freedom; this is freedom getting misused.

Though there isn’t any regulatory body to look after how one exercises their rights, what eventually happens is everyone somehow finds a loophole in the system and condemns about a particular right getting exploited. Unless there’s a body, the right to freedom will get exploited along with the right to speech and expression. Until and unless these loopholes get fixed, we will remain in this never-ending cycle.

Another critical player that comes in between the exercise of rights is the government. What has the government been doing for a very long time now, those anti-nationals, who dare speak against them? Just see the case of JNU or Kashmir. The Supreme Court amended Article 19, which stated the right to freedom of speech and added a sub-clause saying that public safety is a reasonable reason for restricting freedom of speech and expression.

But to answer my question, what is public safety and from whom do we need safety. Isn’t Agrima a part of public, and doesn’t she require safety? If yes, why are charges being put against her for a mere joke? The charges placed on her are only for insulting Shivaji Maharaj, nothing else.

The government intervenes when the statements are towards them. In other cases like Agrima’s and Shaheen’s, the government has no role. Other than the government, the public needs safety from the very public itself.

You must be to comment.

More from Prityush Sharma

Similar Posts

By Hemraj P

By Vaishnavi Navalkar

By Divya Chopra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below