To resist the Right, create more Humans of Hindutva Facebook pages and Twitter accounts
India is in danger of mutating into a republic of both hate and fear. Each feeds on the other. All those who defend the idea of India as a humane, pluralist, rational and inclusive society are also bullied into fear and silence by mobs, online and on the streets. And one by one, the country’s finest voices, young and old, funny and reflective, are falling silent.
The latest to announce his ‘defeat’ by right-wing online mobs is a delightful satirist, who created the web page Humans of Hindutva. For eight months, many looked forward to his popular and savagely funny posts which regularly tore into the bigotry, irrationality and small-mindedness of the right wing and its legion of supporters.
His posts and page were anonymous. His Twitter handle showed a dancing man in khaki shorts who looked like a Union minister. But reportedly after his phone number was made public, he was forced for the first time to take the throng of death threats that he received seriously. “I am outnumbered”, he declared after he pulled down his Facebook page, “(I) ... 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”.
For eight months, he wrote posts poking ferocious fun at cow vigilantism, superstition and religious intolerance. We live in times when this is an act of great courage. I quote from one of his posts: ‘All I want is for 200 million Muslims to leave the country because Aurangzeb. I want 30 million Christians to leave India because Lagaan. I want 23 million Sikhs to leave India because Navjot Sidhu. …I want anyone transporting cattle or eating beef to be lynched by mobs... I want homosexuals to stay away from same sex and become heterosexual...and when they become heterosexual I want them to stay away from the opposite sex because both straight sex and zigzag sex are against Indian culture. I want women to make me rotis and not leave home after 7 pm. I want Hindu women to not wear jeans or skirts or t-shirts or anything that shows skin. I don’t want Muslim women wearing burqas or hijabs because it oppresses them…Farmers should stop killing themselves because it depresses me. I don’t want my taxes used for subsidised education because they should be used for giant statues. I don’t want freedom for the press because then they say things that I don’t want to hear. I want to rewrite history to make my idols come out on top … All I want is for India to be become a Hindu Rashtra by 2023 because sabka saath, mera vikas. Is all this too much to ask?”
The regime and its hordes have silenced one more voice of dissent, of rationality, of youth and of laughter. How many more will be silenced?
Can we all begin to resist, maybe to start with by creating a thousand and more Humans of Hindutva Facebook pages and Twitter accounts?
Harsh Mander is author, Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India
The views expressed are personal