Mumbai-based stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua is receiving rape and death threats, after a controversy erupted over her jokes that allegedly insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Joshua’s jokes have upset the ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra with Home Minister Anil Deshmukh instructing the police to take legal action against her. After facing massive abuse online, Joshua apologised on Twitter.
But the threats haven't stopped. A social media user, Shubham Mishra, who holds a huge follower base on YouTube has posted a video using foul language and issuing rape threats against Joshua. The Vadodara Police on Sunday, 12 July, said it has taken a suo moto action in the matter and detained Mishra. An FIR is likely to be filed in the matter soon.
After multiple stand-up comedians and Bollywood actors raised concerns over the video, National Commission of Women took cognisance of the matter and wrote on Twitter that it has asked the Gujarat Police to take immediate action against Mishra.
Why is Agrima Joshua in Midst of a Controversy?
An old video of Joshua, dated April 2019, performing at a comedy and music cafe in Mumbai's Khar (West) has gone viral where the comedian joked about the Maratha king's upcoming statue in the Arabian Sea. The video, which had created uproar when the act was performed last year, once again surfaced online with Shiv Sena's Thane MLA Pratap Sarnaik writing to Home Minister Anil Deshmukh demanding Joshua's arrest.
In the video, which Joshua has since deleted but is still available on various social media platforms, she jokes about speculation over the state government’s plans to build a statue of the Maratha King in the Arabian Sea.
Taking cognisance of the matter on Saturday afternoon, Deshmukh tweeted, “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 law will take its course.”
When the name of the cafe was revealed by several outraged social media users, MNS activists allegedly barged into the premises and vandalised the furniture early on Saturday, reported The Indian Express.
Addressing the violence at the venue, the cafe issued a statement on Saturday, saying,“We are a family of artists. Not just comics, poets, storytellers, improvisers, singer-songwriters, musicians, technicians, engineers, lighting crew, sound recordists, photographers, videographers, editors, social media managers, decor and event planners, coordinators, programme curators, wait staff, hosts, cooks or housekeeping staff. To put forth a message, we devote our lives to finding creative expression. Not towards acts of barbaric violence or mindless sharing of violence.”.
As the controversy spiralled, Joshua 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.