Kerala has still not recovered from the shock of a mob attacking a tribal man named Madhu from Attappadi on Thursday. While Madhu's death after he was allegedly beaten up by locals who accused him of stealing rice has exposed the indifference to the tribal population, a Facebook group is now facing heat for its posts shaming the tribal population, their food and culture.
Sample this post on Fan Fight Club (FCC), a closed Facebook group that consistently shares abusive and objectionable content that are racist and vulgar.
- "When a tribal from Wayanad sees Kochi Metro, he says: Run, that's a giant leech."
- "A person from Wayanad came for my cousin's wedding. When banana leaf was laid out to serve food, he (insert abuses) first ate up the leaf."
-"A wayanadan came to a friend's home. Pointing at his waist, where a rat and cockroach are tucked in, friend asks him what that is.
The wayanadan replies: "This is my lunch for today, chamiye."
-When a Wayanadan goes to see a prospective bride.
What sort of a girl is this?
Sees the monkey and says: "She looks like a queen, chamiye."
These are just some of the umpteen number of posts that are shared on the group on a daily basis. After Madhu's death, several Facebook users came out against FFC, to expose its anti-tribal content.
Fan Fight Club
With more than 65,000 members, FFC is a closed group. After criticism rose against the group, it was first archived, then closed down.
TNM went through several posts on the group and found that most are filled with swear words. Many of the recent posts are centered around newcomer actor Priya Varrier, who rose to popularity after a song from the movie Oru Adaar Love went viral. The members also take great pride in showering abuses on people who do not agree with their point of view.
After criticism against the group came up, many members also shared screenshots of Facebook posts that criticised FFC and showered abuses on people who wrote them.
Many posts asked why FFC was being "targeted" for Madhu's death. The fact that the members consistently shared posts that propagated and reinstated prejudices against the tribal population, however, seems to have been lost on them.
Many posts also made fun of Madhu's lynching. Here's one such post.
(Dark-complexioned) actor Salim Kumar says in this meme: Listen, I have to go to Palakkad for something. Will they lynch me to death too?
Another one had Priya Varrier's and Madhu's photographs. It said: "It is when we see Priya Varrier, that we feel like throwing such Wayanadan people into the well."
Among many others who called out the group was Mukesh Kumar. Saying that he first came across the group a few months ago after the phrase OMKV became viral, Mukesh says in his post:
"FFC is a mafia that has members in their 20s, who are encouraged to abuse and degrade everything and everyone. There are so many posts that reek of racism."
Another user who called out FFC was Sindhu Maria Nepolean, a student.
"These posts that reduce adivasis into people who say "chamiye", eat rats and cats and those who are dumbstruck at seeing a metro. Such posts and movies like Bamboo Boys heavily influence how tribal population is perceived. Madhu's photo that is now filling our news feeds, is proof of this. The people who killed him strongly believed that Madhu was not one among them," Sindhu wrote.
On Madhu's death, she further wrote that people tend to only see that Madhu lived in the forest and is being considered a lesser human.
"Nobody is talking about what was found from a bag he was carrying. For them (accused), he was only a kaattujaadi (a derogatory term used to refer to people who live in the forest). Someone whose death will not be questioned," Sindhu wrote.
Director Omar Lulu is reportedly an active member of FFC, and has actively participated in discussions on posts shared by its members. A screenshot has been doing the rounds, in which, Omar Lulu cooly responds to a comment by a user, asking whether his film will have bikini shots. The director is now being criticised for propagating misogynistic discussions on women actors.
However, when TNM contacted Omar Lulu, he claimed that although he'd been a member of the group, he quit when abusive comments on made on celebrities. He further alleged that the comments featured in screenshots circulated on the Internet were made by fake handles.
FFC may have shut for now but it has reopened twice in the past after controversies. The toxic atmosphere that its members encouraged is something that other internet users will need to continuously and vehemently oppose.