Trolling over social media is a part and parcel of being a public figure. But receiving a rape threat openly is certainly unacceptable and unsafe for women in general.

Agrima Joshua, a Mumbai based stand-up comedian, found herself in the midst of a chaotic controversy over her joke that was received as a nasty insult towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The alleged video is dated back to 2019.

To give some perspective, during a regular stand-up set last year, Agrima spoke about a post she read on Quora, and she quotes “…This Shivaji statue is an amazing masterstroke by Prime Minister Modi Ji. It will have solar cells which will power all of Maharashtra…It will also have GPS tracker…”

Skip to 2020 and this clip was suddenly making rounds. Agrima took to Twitter, marking a tweet to Aaditya Thackeray, the son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, stating that the BJP’s IT cell has unleashed trolls on her.

Wait a minute – how can such an event miss political edge? Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik tweeted that he had written to Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh seeking Agrima’s arrest and that strict action should be taken against her. Soon, Anil Deshmukh tweeted that he has instructed Mumbai Police to take legal action against Agrima Joshua expeditiously.

Disturbed by the outrage, Agrima put out a heartfelt and sincere apology on Twitter stating: 

Even after apologizing publicly, Agrima’s act from a year back was not forgotten. 

But the thing which caught everyone’s attention is a video posted by Shubham Mishra, a YouTuber with a subscriber base of over 2.98 lakh, using crass and low language to issue rape threats against Agrima. This ignited fury amongst netizens.

The language used in Shubham’s video is disgusting and loathsome, where he not only rants distastefully about Agrima but also towards her mother and sister. Fearing multiple lawsuits from active organizations working to protect women across the country, Shubham later pulled down the video. The National Commission for Women (NCW) and Gujarat Police were called upon to take immediate and appropriate action against Shubham. Subsequently, Vadodara City Police sprang into action and arrested the perpetrator.

The irony is so far no political party spoke about arresting Shubham for his intentional and public abuse towards a woman.

This incident is disturbing on many levels as it leaves one with many untangled thoughts like: 

  1. What is the extent to which people in India enjoy their Freedom of Speech? 
  2. Context and intention of an artist for an old act being misunderstood to such an extent, isn’t that fearful?
  3. Can political parties and their leaders play a selective role in such matters over social media?

Many celebrities and artists like Swara Bhaskar, Vir Das, Kunal Kamra and Kusha Kapila showcased their support for Agrima on social media.