Beef Janata Party to SuSuSwamy: Death Threat Norm for Parody Pages

In exclusive interviews to The Quint, the admins of both pages reveal that they have received death threats as well.

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Beef Janata Party to SuSuSwamy: Death Threat Norm for Parody Pages

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On Thursday evening, the popular parody page Humans of Hindutva went missing from Facebook. Soon enough, a message from the admin revealed that the reason for his exit was threats to his life.

I have recently received some threats to my life which I can’t take lightly. I am outnumbered, live in a BJP state and come from a middle-class family with no political or police connections. I have no desire to end up like Gauri Lankesh or Afrazul Khan. Actually, more than myself, I worry for the safety of my family. I hope those who threatened me consider this as a victory and leave us alone.
Admin, Humans of Hindutva

On Friday, we caught up with the admins of two of India’s most popular parody pages - Unofficial Subramanian Swamy and Beef Janata Party. In exclusive interviews to The Quint, the admins of both pages revealed that they had received several death threats as well. Would they consider shutting shop and going quiet too?

Receiving threat messages are a norm for the admins of Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy and Beef Janata Party.
(Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

‘Who Will Come to Defend Us?’

When the threats come, all the support we’ll get is online. There won’t be anyone to defend me outside my house.
Admin, Beef Janata Party

On 2 March 2015, the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in Maharashtra imposed a beef ban in the state. On the same day, a parody page sprung up on Facebook in protest. With a name mocking the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s affinity for banning beef, Beef Janata Party was born.

In the two and a half years since, the page has garnered more than 200,000 followers. The content is strictly and unapologetically political, and mostly anti-establishment, giving it the tag of “anti-BJP” among supporters and opposers alike.

And criticism has not always been friendly.

We receive a death threat every two or three weeks, and abusive messages directed at our families. There are people who send threatening messages claiming to know where we stay. Some of them even pose as anti-BJP guys to get friendly and find out our identities. But just a simple visit to their Facebook profiles is enough to show that they are anything but anti-BJP. A lot of the death threats we receive on the page are through fake accounts.
Admin, Beef Janata Party

How do you deal with the threats? Do they get you worked up, or perturbed?

Ya, sometimes it does get to you. When the threats increased, I took precautions on Facebook to ensure that they can’t get to me. But if they want, I’m sure they can.


Anonymity a Necessity

There is definitely a threat. Otherwise, why are all of us admins running such pages anonymously?
Admin, Beef Janata Party

So what do you do when you get a disturbing threat?

Sometimes, we take a screenshot of the threat message and post it on the Beef Janata Party page, with a caption mocking the threat. Often, soon after we do so, the profiles that had sent the threats disappear off Facebook.

How many people know the real identities of the admins of Beef Janata Party?

Only two or three people know that I run the page. Some of my friends figure out from a similar writing style on my profile and the page. That does worry me sometimes.

How did you react when you heard news of the Humans of Hindutva admin fearing for his life and leaving Facebook yesterday?

I kept wondering, “How did they get hold of his phone number?” And now, with the Aadhaar linkage to mobile numbers, can his other details be found through that? It worries me.


Not Funny Anymore

Humans of Hindutva had a way of writing that even those who were the butt of his jokes could laugh at it. But clearly, they don’t see the humour in it. Now, the state and the country and the government and the BJP and Modi are all equated with each other. You cannot argue that your posts are against the government and not against the country. They could attack you physically for doing so.
Admin, Beef Janata Party

I ask, “If the threats against you increase, will you stop and delete the page?”

The admin of Beef Janata Party replies instantly, “No. No way.” And then pauses for a few seconds and adds, “Maybe.”


I Have a Family Too: @SuSuSwamy

A measure of the popularity of these parody pages on Facebook.
(Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)
I used to see the kind of posts published by ShankNaad on a page named Subramanian Swamy. They posted stuff about how the Vatican was originally a Hindu place called Vatika, and such things. And they posted all of this seriously. So I started to parody that by posting similar things and mocking the ridiculousness of it all.
Admin, Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy

Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy began its journey on Facebook in July 2014. In the three years since, receiving threats has only been the norm.

In the first couple of years, I would get at least 5 to 6 threats and abusive messages a day. Every once in a while, I get death threats too. I was actually worried when the Humans of Hindutva page first went down. The first thing I did was secure my personal profile. I removed all the Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy posts from my personal timeline. I restricted my friend list and removed my personal info completely from Facebook.
Admin, Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy

How does Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy handle threats he receives on the page?

“What I do is take a screenshot and post it on my page. I make fun of the threat and posting a screenshot online generally makes them stop. Also, several politically motivated people keep reporting me on Facebook. As a result, Facebook has removed 10 to 15 of my posts so far.”

Have you ever thought of deleting the page?

It had crossed my mind a year back. I also have a family, so at times I get worried.

Will you stop?

Maybe not.

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Topics:  Parody   Death threats   Facebook Posts 

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