Kerala-based writer and activist J Devika has said that she would henceforth boycott any object or person who endorses aggressive Hindutva symbols, including autorickshaws that flaunt the ‘Angry Hanuman’ poster. She made the statement while participating in a panel discussion for News Hour on Asianet News on Sunday, on the Kathua rape and murder case of an 8-year-old.
"In Thiruvananthapuram, there are so many autorickshaws that bear posters of the rudra Hanuman. I will not get into any such auto, even if I have to walk for 2 kilometers. Moreover, I will not engage with anyone who bears symbols of extreme Hindutva, and I refuse to help in making profits for any organisation that bears such marks," Devika said.
The Angry Hanuman poster designed by Bengaluru based Karan Acharya three years ago has become a rage across the country. The poster has come under much criticism lately, with many calling it a symbol of Hindutva hypermasculinity.
Devika also said that religious divide and communalism is being driven into the minds of young people in Kerala, by the RSS.
"I see that in classrooms, how much ever we try to drill logic into their minds, they refuse to listen. For them, what their bhayya ji or Ram Madhav said is the final word. They have lost their thinking ability. Kerala is a place where Hindus and Muslims and Christians live in harmony. Tomorrow, say a Christian or a Muslim buys a plot adjacent to yours and you feel like driving them away from there! What is the proof that these people won't go to any extent?" Devika asked.
Devika's statement to boycott anyone or any organization using the ‘Angry Hanuman’ symbol was endorsed by many.
Devika's statement of boycotting autorickshaws and taxis with the ‘Angry Hanuman’ has found support on social media. Others joined in saying they will boycott Uber, Ola and other taxi aggregators if they allowed such drivers. A few women raised safety concerns.
One such post asking for a boycott got more than 800 shares on Facebook.
However, this move also received flak from many, who felt that the decision to boycott was not well thought out and against freedom of expression.
Charmy Jayasree Harikrishnan, a senior journalist, wrote, “Those who are calling for a boycott of certain Hanuman posters and vehicles displaying them and fervently writing to Uber haven't thought this through. India is still a free country and there is nothing to suggest that all those who display a particular poster of Hanuman belong to a group that harass or rape women. On a private vehicle, you can display any symbol of religion: cross or crescent or hanuman. And stop insisting that Hanuman should be smiling. You are displaying the worst traits of those whom you claim to oppose. You are not only trying to establish mob justice and calling for subversion of freedom of expression but this also amounts to blatant discrimination and denying employment due to prejudices -- and you can be sued for that."
Padma Pillai, who was part of the ‘Ready to Wait’ campaign took to Twitter to counter the call for boycotting vehicles with the sticker.
She declared that she would give Rs 50 to drivers whose cars have posters of Hindu deity.
"I will give the driver a Rs 50 cash tip if a poster of any Hindu deity is prominently displayed in the rear windshield," Padma wrote.
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