In Bengal, women fight back online abuse in wake of Sushant Rajput death
Actor Rhea Chakraborty, who is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, moved the Supreme Court on Monday over “unfair media trial”, while far away in West Bengal there were strong reactions to thousands of hateful social media posts from various parts of the country against Bengali women in general.
The posts started appearing around 10 days ago and many prominent women and citizens in Bengal are countering the trend. They have been joined by women leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“We condemn this. Whether Rhea Chakraborty had anything to do with the death is a subject of probe. How can all Bengali women be treated like this on social media,” Mausam Benazir Noor, TMC Rajya Sabha member and vice-chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women, told HT.
“The Centre must take action to stop these posts,” added Noor, who is also a lawyer.
The Bengal unit of the BJP reacted sharply as well.
“When it comes to serving mankind people remember the name of Asia’s first woman doctor Kadambini Devi. People pay homage to legendary freedom fighters such as Matangini Hazra. We cannot forget revolutionary Leela Roy, Bengal’s only woman member in the Constituent Assembly. Let us stop this nonsense. Bengalis across genders have always been the best of the souls and minds,” said Agnimitra Paul, president of the state BJP Mahila Morcha (women’s front).
Kolkata-based social activist Saswati Ghosh said attempts to shame all Bengali women can also be a sign of jealousy since they have earned laurels in every field.
Rupa Chakraborty Khan, a resident of Uttarpara in Bengal’s Hooghly district, has lodged a police complaint against such posts and trolling.
“How can people indulge in such senseless generalisation. Bengali women are being called witches and gold diggers on Facebook and Twitter. I could not sit quiet,” she said.
One of the viral tweets that people in Bengal have reacted to was posted on July 31 by Barkha Trehan, who describes herself as “Voice of Men” and “Hindu entrepreneur.”
“STAY SAFE MEN / BOYS. Bengali girls are dominating, they know how to make guys fall for them. They catch big fish, good looking highly paid guys. If you want to be her servant and financer and are okay to leave your family and join her family then go ahead,” wrote Trehan.
Reacting to this, popular actress and TMC Lok Sabha member Nusrat Jahan tweeted, “We “Bengali Girls” also run around – cook n conquer the world. Stop disgracing a community for your Agendas. I’m sure you don’t know your Maach-Masala-Mishti (fish, spices and sweets) well.”
The hate tweets triggered reaction from cities across India. Though most people opposed the hatred, Rhea Chakraborty faced ire and public trial.
Rishi Bagree, a BJP supporter with 1,84,000 followers, wrote, “It’s wrong to target Bengali Girls for something wrong done by #RheaChakroborty.”
“I am from Bengal and supports @itsSSR. Want his case to be thoroughly investigated but targeting every Bengali girl just because Rhea is Bengali is utter madness,” tweeted Shibangi Hazra who is part of the Justice for SSR (Sushant Singh Rajput) movement on social media.
On August 7, Prity Kunwar, a Supreme Court lawyer, tweeted, “…Ppl may say whatever but since the last 51 days, I have seen as many Bengali girls in this campaign as any other. A dirty fish has maligned the entire pond. But don’t let some cynics affect you.”
Krishna Prakash, whose Twitter identity includes the words “nationalist Hindu,” wrote, “A woman is a woman..either it be Bengali, Bihari or Marathi..And dominating girls doesn’t mean that they are criminals like #RheaChakroborty..Stop your regional dirty politics here..Respect the woman..Every woman is Durga either its Bengali or Marathi.”
Shiela Gangopadhyay, whose twitter name comes with the prefix ‘Chowkidar’ made popular in 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wrote, “Bengali girls are Simple, honest, sincere, like any other girl from any corner of the world!.... ”