Being a comedian in India has always been a difficult job. In a country, this populous and diverse, one simply cannot know what might be a joke to some people, and what might end up offending a particular section of the society. Whenever comedians have tread on sensitive grounds, they have been intimidated with death threats, rape threats, and FIRs. Sometimes even seemingly innocent jokes which were made just to tickle the bones without any intention of malice, have found themselves to be the reason of major debates, and cause of landing the standup comic in trouble.
In the latest debacle of comedians ending up offending people, we have the incident of Mumbai based comedian Agrima Joshua who has been at the receiving end of rape threats and abuses over the past two days over a standup comedy joke she had performed back in 2019. In the video (now taken down) Agrima speaks about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s upcoming statue in Maharashtra and some funny things about it she read on the Q&A website Quora.
@MumbaiPolice dear Mumbai Police please help https://t.co/d9r71XKmOI please her liberal friends, a so-called comedian insults Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj!
This woman is a stand up comedian and her name is
Agrima Joshua. There may be some legal action against this woman.? pic.twitter.com/u8cysU26PF
— Nityanand Devendra (@NityanandDeven2) July 9, 2020
The stand-up comic’s jokes have ‘upset’ Shiv Sena and they are now seeking her arrest. Agrima took to twitter to apologize to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). But now she is in the middle of a social media storm, getting rape threats on social media and is at the receiving end of a lot of ugly commentary from men whose ‘sentiments are hurt.’
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh instructed police to take ‘legal action’ against stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua, on allegations of insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Deshmukh tweeted on Saturday, “I have instructed CP (Commissioner of Police) Mumbai and IG (Inspector General) Cyber to take legal action expeditiously. I urge everyone to maintain calm and the law will take its course.”
I ve instructed CP Mumbai and IG Cyber to take legal action expeditiously ..I urge everyone to maintain calm and law will take its course. https://t.co/laFCARvKUC
— ANIL DESHMUKH (@AnilDeshmukhNCP) July 11, 2020
The standup act was part of a performance by Joshua in April 2019 at a comedy cafe in Khar(West), according to a report in The Indian Express. Now the cafe and its owners are dealing with vandalism and their names and personal information being spread out on social media. The cafe issued a statement that said, “To put forth a message, we devote our lives to finding creative expression. Not towards acts of barbaric violence or mindless sharing of violence.”
After facing abuse online, Joshua also issued an apology on Twitter. “I am sorry for having hurt the sentiments of the many followers of the great leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. My heartfelt apologies to followers of the great leader, who I sincerely respect. The video has already been taken down. Please amplify,” wrote Joshua.
I am sorry for having hurt the sentiments of the many followers of the great leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. My heartfelt apologies to followers of the great leader, who I sincerely respect. The video has already been taken down. Please amplify.
— Agrima Joshua 🇮🇳 (@Agrimonious) July 10, 2020
Later she took to Twitter again to post an apology video.
— Agrima Joshua 🇮🇳 (@Agrimonious) July 11, 2020
Despite the public apology, a netizen named Shubham Mishra made a video threatening to rape Agrima. In the video posted by Kunal Kamra, Subham can be seen hurling the vilest of abuses to Agrima and bringing in her mother and sister’s name.
On Sunday, Swara Bhasker brought to the notice of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh the video of Mishra and asked if a joke, however offensive, justifies the kind of public threat to a woman that she has been receiving. She also wrote, “This Shubham Mishra is issuing a public threat to rape & inciting others to do so. A clear offense under Section 503 IPC,” and asked if the Mumbai Police can take against him.
Respected @AnilDeshmukhNCP sir 🙏🏽 Does a joke however offensive justify this kind of a public threat to a woman? This Shubham Mishra is issuing a public threat 2 rape & inciting others 2 do so. Clear offence under Section 503 IPC. Can u pls ask @MumbaiPolice 2 take action sir? 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/lKyZrl0Ofq
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) July 11, 2020
The Home Minister responded swiftly on Twitter, replying, “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj taught us to respect women. But if someone is using/threatening the wrong language about women, then there is a law for them. @MahaCyber1 verify this video. @CPMumbaiPolice take appropriate legal action against the person in the video as per the rules.”
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj taught us to respect women.But if someone is using/threatening the wrong language about women, then there is a law for them. @MahaCyber1 verify this video. @CPMumbaiPolice take appropriate legal action against the person in the video as per the rules. https://t.co/4zxwOTIh0r
— ANIL DESHMUKH (@AnilDeshmukhNCP) July 12, 2020
After multiple complaints online, the cybercrime cell booked a complaint against him and the Vadodara Police on Sunday evening said it has taken a suo moto action in the matter and detained Shubham Mishra. Police said it has initiated a legal process for registration of FIR against him under the relevant section of IPC and IT act.
“Vadodara City Police took suo moto action in respect of an abusive, threatening video which was uploaded and shared on Social media by Shubham Mishra. We have detained him and initiated legal process for registration of FIR against him under the relevant section of IPC and IT act,” Vadodara Police said in a tweet.
Vadodara City Police took suo moto action in respect of an abusive, threatening video which was uploaded and shared on Social media by Shubham Mishra.
We have detained him and initiated legal process for registration of FIR against him under relevent section of IPC and IT act. pic.twitter.com/XM6J8y4nDx
— Vadodara City Police (@Vadcitypolice) July 12, 2020