A group of college students in Bengaluru have started an online petition calling out a "comic skit" for its casteist portrayal and derogatory references to Dr BR Ambedkar. A police complaint has also been filed in the matter.
What happened? On 6 February, Jain Deemed to be University hosted its college fest Samyog. One of the events held was Mad Ads – an event to advertise imaginary products along the lines of humour. The petition states that students from Jain University, CMS, however, "put forward an incredibly casteist and insensitive skit. It's unacceptable that the script for the performance went through multiple rounds of approval before being enacted on stage."
What did the skit show? Enacted by ‘The Delroys Boys’, the theatre group showed a man from a "scheduled caste" trying to date an upper-caste woman." The makers turned BR Ambedkar into ‘Beer Ambedkar’ and used several other problematic phrases like ‘Why be Dalit when you can be D-Lit’, to supposedly spark humour,” one of the petitioners told The News Minute.
The police complaint: A complaint was filed on Thursday, 9 February, before the Superintendent of Police, Maharashtra, by Aakshay Bansode, State Member of the Vanchit Bahujan Yuva Aaghadi, under Section X(3) of the SC/ST Act, as well as Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to casuse riot), 153A, 295 (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 499 (Defamation), 500, 503, 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
It urged the police to turn the complaint into a First Information Report (FIR) and take necessary action against the performers and the university authorities.
Following this, an FIR was registered by Siddapura police in Jayanagar against the principal and other senior officials of the university. The atrocity complaints have been filed against the management and students of the university at several police stations across the state.
Is the discrimination intentional? Dhrstadyumn, Senior Engagements Associate at Jhatkaa.org told The News Minute, “They have a 20-30 second non-lesson lesson at the end of it but a few seemingly subversive dialogues, in the end, do not justify the casteist humour intended to tickle upper cast funny bone, that appear in a good number of scenes in the performance.”
Meanwhile, the theatre group has reportedly apologised stating, "We as a team want to say sorry to everyone that we have spoken bad about, we genuinely apologise for our mistake. Our intention was to bring in a social message but this turned out to be unaccepted."
Jhatkaa’s Instagram page features some of the controversial snippets of casteist humour from the skit.