Stand-up comedians Vir Das, Rohan Joshi claim harassment, bullying after personal info leaked

Earlier on Tuesday, private contact details of these comics were shared from an anonymous Twitter account which was later suspended.
Comedians Vir Das (L) and Rohan Joshi. (Photos| Facebook)
Comedians Vir Das (L) and Rohan Joshi. (Photos| Facebook)

MUMBAI: Several comedians, including Vir Das, Rohan Joshi and Kaneez Surka, have alleged that their personal contact information and addresses were leaked, subjecting them to "threats and abusive messages".

On Monday night, Twitter users dug out screenshots of jokes of some comics - including Varun Grover, Aditi Mittal, Abish Matthew - which they had cracked in the past. The social media users claimed the comedians particularly used Hindu gods in their joke punchlines and started trending #HinduphobicComedyIndustry.

Earlier on Tuesday, private contact details of these comics were shared from an anonymous Twitter account. The account was later suspended. Joshi, co-founder and member of the now-defunct comedy group AIB, took to Instagram and requested that his family be spared of the abuses coming his way.

"Going offline for a few days. Number and address have been leaked, so the last few days have been a circus of abuse, threats, 2 am phone calls and anxious spirals. See you on the other side whenever I guess," he wrote.

He also offered an apology for hurting any religious sentiments. "I'm sorry if I offended anyone's sentiments with my words and I apologise without any qualifications and reservations for any words I have spoken that have hurt someone's religious sentiments. Please leave my family alone," he added.

Das said that many comedians, including himself, were at the receiving end of such hate messages. "In the last 24 hours. Myself and every comic I have spoken to, male and female have had threats, abusive messages and all sorts of filth. It's literally all of us going 'yeah...same.' Hang in there. Stay strong," he tweeted.

Surka took to Instagram and said despite all the threats, comedians will always bounce back. "For some of you - You can try as hard as you want to take us down - but comedians always bounce back. And we will come back with even more jokes and even more comedy - how's that for a threat...I threatened you with more comedy!" the "Comicstaan" judge wrote.

Comedian Radhika Vaz said she too was getting trolled. "Dear followers - I am being trolled for pointing out the obvious sexism inherent in India, the defenders of 'Indian culture' are doing the trolling. Please avoid looking at any comments on my page as they are vile and may trigger you and upset your day. Only love," she wrote on the microblogging site.

The development came days after a female stand-up comic was subjected to online rape threats and abuses after a year-old video of her allegedly cracking a joke on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's statue surfaced.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Sunday sought immediate action from Gujarat Police against one Shubham Mishra for allegedly hurling abuses and giving rape threats to the said comedian on social media.

Vadodara Police had arrested Mishra on Sunday for the alleged video. Mumbai Police's Cyber Branch, too, took suo motu cognisance of another alleged threatening video against the comedian and arrested Imtiyaz Sheikh, who used the profile 'Umesh Dada' on YouTube, on Monday.

Reacting to the threats against the female stand-up comic, comedian Sumukhi Suresh on Sunday wrote being hurt over a joke is not an excuse to give "rape threats" to artistes. "You are not allowed to rape and threaten to rape us. You are not allowed to sexually assault and threaten to do that. You cannot say 'we respect ladies' and then tell us to 'shut up or we will rape you and your mothers on the road'. You will not be allowed to think that you have the right to violate our body to silence us. Please do not be a coward and a disgusting human," she posted.

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The New Indian Express