While you were browsing through adorable pictures of Taimur breaking the Internet, one bit of news slipped past the bullshit that we call news in our country.
‘Humans of Hindutva’- a spectacularly funny parody page – has been shut down after the owner received death threats from saffron dicks. It was a sad day for Indian Internet, as Humans of Hindutva was among the few genuinely funny pages on the web.
India achieved tremendous Internet penetration in the last two years, but good humour is hard to find. The most popular humour pages in India copy stuff from other pages (some, without even giving credit). In fact, one of the greatest bonuses of quitting Facebook is not having to deal with those fuck-all pages. All those pages that borrow each other’s content at low interest rates.
In India, nobody wishes to attempt political humour. It is either considered not mainstream enough, or runs the risk of inviting vitriol and anger from trolls on Twitter. AIB is probably the only organisation that indulges in political humour and satire, but it’s only a segment of what they do online.
Which is why it was a relief to find Humans of Hindutva.
As you might have guessed, it was a parody of the mind-bogglingly popular Humans of New York. HONY was a good page when I began following it, but I’ve found that all the goodness on the page makes me throw up a little. Just picture after picture of earnest, wise, honest people made me feel a little claustrophobic.
Like the Scary Movie series, I actually enjoyed the parodies of HONY more than the actual page. There’s Goats of Bangladesh – an absolute favourite – and Cows of Benares. And then, there was Humans of Hindutva.
Idiotic MPs, MLAs, and ministers, statements by journos and Twitter trolls, Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi – nobody was spared from the incendiary radar of the page.
The page addressed our new-found lunacy as a nation – where the life of a cow is more precious than a human being’s. The page took on right-wing morons with access to Internet, and showed a beautiful mirror to India, our quirks and many convoluted compulsions. And yet, there wasn’t anything visceral about his posts (I only assume it was a guy who ran the page, but I could be completely wrong, of course!).
The posts were smartly worded and humourous; not the work of a troll. The page wasn’t run to spread hatred, but to mirror the frustration of the daily life of an Indian, sane, youngster. It wasn’t hate that the page propagated, but a wry, dry variant of sarcasm.
Humans of Hindutva shut down its operations after receiving death threats from right-wing extremists. This was the message that he left, while announcing that he was shutting down the page:
I’m quitting out of my own accord. I’ve not been banned or mass reported. I have recently received some threats to my life which I can’t take lightly. I am outnumbered, live in a BJP state and 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. I have deleted the HOH page and will delete this website soon. Congratulations to Hindutva on winning this David vs Goliath fight. As for those who were kind enough to lend me their ears for the last eight months, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Cheers and alvida. Thanks for giving me some of your time.
This is deeply saddening on two levels.
One, my age-old grudge against a government that associates itself with a religion. It has never worked – in the USA, or Mid-west, or in Pakistan. Religion and governance are two ideas that cannot work together, no matter how special you think your nation is.
Secondly, it dispels the myth of Hindus being tolerant. In the last few years, we have become a clone of the very Islamists that the Hindutva brigade hates. To take down a parody page reflects the weak insecurities in the minds of the people.
As a nation, we do not understand the concepts of humour and sarcasm. For us, humour is the same as mazaak udaana – to humiliate, to insult, to show someone their place. This is probably why there’s no word for sarcasm in Indian languages. May be it is a Western import too, like the Beretta M 1934 Semi-automatic that killed Gandhi.
Dear admin of Humans of Hindutva, I hope you’re reading this.
It’s easy to preach about integrity and standing up for one’s beliefs. But who would want to go through the kind of fate that Gauri Lankesh went through? But there is a silver lining.
The Internet is a vast, open minefield. And I’m sure you’ll find other spaces to shine, and take on the powers that be.
Thank you for what you had chosen to do. It was a lot of fun following your page!