A comedian’s powerful monologue addressing some of India’s most sensitive issues including rape and peasant protests has divided public opinion in the country, as wing activists Owners called for his arrest while supporters protested to protect him.
Comedian Vir Das performed “I come from two Indias” – a speech that captures what he sees as the country’s dual personality – at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, on May 12. 11. A six-minute video of the speech uploaded to YouTube on Monday has garnered more than 850,000 views at the time of publication.
“I come from India, where we worship women by day, but gang rape them at night,” Das says in the monologue.
“I come from India, where we pride ourselves on being vegetarian, but run past our vegetable farmers,” he added, referring to the deaths of at least eight people last month. a car involving a federal minister allegedly ran over some people during a protest against the controversial farm law.
The hashtag #VirDas is trending in India, with more than 60,000 tweets as of Wednesday afternoon.
Ashutosh Dubey, legal counsel for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said he filed a complaint with Mumbai police on Tuesday against Das’ “inciting” comments.
In one post on Twitter, Dubey accused Das of “smearing and damaging the image of India in the United States.”
Indian filmmaker Ashoke Pandit said that Das “should be arrested immediately” for his comments.
“I see a terrorist in this man named #VirDas”, he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, added Das should be “tried under anti-terrorism law.”
In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Das defended his monologue, adding that he was “proud” of India.
“The video is a satire about the duality of two very separate Indias, doing different things,” he said. “Like any nation there is light and darkness, good and evil within it. None of this is a secret.”
Meanwhile, Das has gained support from a number of politicians, journalists and opposition activists.
Shashi Tharoor, a lawmaker from the opposition Congress Party, said Das “speaks for millions” in a post on Twitter.
“A stand-up comedian knows the true meaning of the term ‘stand up’ is not physical but moral,” he said.
Another Congressman, Kapil Sibal, also supported Das. “No one can doubt that there are two [sic]. It’s just that we don’t want an Indian telling the world about it,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. We are intolerant and hypocritical. “
In recent months, several Indian comedians have raised concerns about what they say is an escalating crackdown on free speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Muslim comedian Munawar Faruqui was arrested in January for allegedly making “indecent remarks” about Hindu gods, according to CNN affiliate CNN-News18. Faruqui was granted bail by the Supreme Court in February, News18 reported.