Hindustani Bhau aka Vikas Fhatak – the 42-year-old Mumbai-based YouTuber, who has been arrested for 'instigating' classes 10 and 12 students to stage protest in Mumbai's Dharavi on Monday, 31 January – has found himself at the centre of a controversy yet again.
The action was taken against him after a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the social media influencer over a video he uploaded on 24 January, in which he said, "The government is urging people to remain indoors. Then, why take offline board exams of the students?"
Fhatak had threatened the authorities that he will "hit the streets along with lakhs of students," adding that "he will stick to his words if the demands are not met."
A swarm of students collected in Dharavi once the video went viral, leading to police action to curtail the student protesters.
Who Is Hindustani Bhau?
A former Bigg Boss contestant in 2019, Bhau catapulted to fame with the videos he made in the same year, employing slangs and cuss words in his unique style. His video after the Pulwama attack was one of his most widely shared videos that year, earning him the support of a host of fans.
The attire Bhau donned, made him look like a self-styled aggressor who would go on to lambast others, a lot of which were people and YouTubers from Pakistan.
His Bigg Boss stint, he claimed in an interview to The Indian Express, "managed to change his image."
"Now people have realised that I am a fun-loving person, and am not abusing all the time," he told the newspaper.
Not a One-Off Incident
Vikas Fhatak's bio on Instagram – where his handle is called hindustanibhausarkar – reads: 'Hum Jiyenge Or Marenge Ye Watan Tere Liye' (We will live and die for this nation).
Fhatak has amassed a following of 1.4 million on the platform, where he routinely posts photos and videos commemorating important days of the Indian Army, and shots with his police friends, amongst others.
His Instagram account was suspended in August 2020 after he was reported by multiple users for "hate speech or symbols." Actor Shashank Arora and comedian Kunal Kamra were among those who had lambasted him for his content.
After that incident, Fhatak changed tack and his videos now see him professing the misery of the poor, doing charity in situations of need, or dubbing in reels.
Fhatak has also made public his support for different people from time to time – from body builder Manoj Patil, who attempted suicide, to the students in Dadar who were demanding their school fees be waived. The latter saw him being arrested by the Mumbai Police for violating COVID-19 protocols.
The student protests in Dharavi are the latest in a series of offences that have come to be associated with Fhatak.
Fhatak's channel on YouTube has more than 5.5 lakh subscribers.
A video he uploaded on the channel titled 'Gali Dene Vaala Har Insaan Bura Nahi Hota Dost' (Not everyone who abuses is a bad person), justified the swearing he is commonly known for in the name of achieving justice for the 'sisters and mothers.'
The YouTuber has continued to use abuses aplenty in the videos he uploads till date.
His videos on YouTube range from a brandishing of his religious identity to ultimatums on the situation in Kashmir. Fhatak also filed a complaint against a person allegedly accused of cheering for Pakistan post the India-Pakistan match in the World Cup, staging his 'patriotic' credentials, as he claims himself to be.
Known to pose as a custodian and well-wisher of the poor, women, the Hindu religion and the nation too on some counts, Fhatak comments on any development that touches upon these themes, from the allocation of the Padma Shri Awards to the happenings in Kashmir.