The popularity of a Facebook event which called for people to meet at Connaught Place, New Delhi, and shout Bol Na Aunty Aau Kya, a viral rap song by Omprakash Mishra has stumped many. With hundreds actually turning up for the event and shouting out the misogynistic song it looked like Omprakash had more fans than anticipated.
On Wednesday, Quint Neon, in a video featuring reporter Deeksha Sharma, called out the song for its crass and violent sexism. Bol Na Aunty Aau Kya or Aunty Ki Ghanti is essentially a rape threat and endorses the thinking that the ‘aunty’, who could be any woman, is ‘asking for it’ by wearing skimpy clothes and having a desirable ‘figure’.
YouTube has since taken down Omprakash’s video, and the error message lists a copyright claim by ‘Smokedlime’.
Starting Friday night, not only have The Quint and Quint Neon’s Facebook pages been filled with thousands of hateful comments, but the inboxes of the women in their team have been inundated with rape and death threats. Here is a snapshot of the comments section on Facebook.
The Quint has since filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime cell against the Omprakash and the online harassers.
“Our social media pages and journalists were tagged in obscene posts, were abused online and trolled,” the complaint says. “Last night, the reporter [name retracted] who did the video got two death threats on her personal WhatsApp number at 3.12am (on 16 September 2017). The two numbers were – [numbers retracted]. Ever since then, her personal page on Facebook and her number are flooded with sexual abuses and rape threats,” the complaint adds.
Deeksha, who seems to be the main target for the trolls, told TNM that when the trolling began, they tried to engage with people in the comments section so as to explain the idea behind Quint Neon’s video. Deeksha replied to some persons from her personal profile. Soon after that, abusers began targeting her personally.
“Every abuse you can think of, you will find in my [Facebook] inbox. They took screenshots of my photos and posts and started circulating them on Instagram,” Deeksha says.
The screenshots Deeksha is talking about are indeed being circulated on social media, and attempt to slut shame her. Others juxtapose her face with the lyrics of Aunty Ki Ghanti.
Apart from Deeksha, other women reporters at The Quint also received similar threats. Garvita Khybri, a colleague of Deeksha, tells TNM, “Our entire team is being threatened. We have done Facebook lives so they know who we are. It’s easy for them to find our Facebook profiles. Two of my women colleagues have temporarily deactivated their social media profiles because we’ve just been inundated with threats. They just want to gag women’s voice.”
While the trolling and abuse has been pouring in for over two days, Garvita adds that it was last night that the trolls came like armies. All this while Omprakash has been endorsing and egging on the abusers, but it was on Saturday night that the ‘rapper’ shared a status of a fan asking for Quint Neon’s Facebook page to be ‘raided’.
Omprakash earlier wrote on his Facebook page to report Quint Neon’s page.
Both posts seem to have been deleted now. But Rudraksh Dixit, who called for the raid, posted a status later on Saturday night saying that the idea behind the ‘raid’ was not to give rape and death threats. On Sunday morning, responding perhaps to the news of The Quint filing a complaint, Rudraksh wrote, “If you troll my feelings, I will file a police complaint.”
A Facebook page called MemeMandir had also taken part in the organised trolling by creating the event ‘Shouting Bol Na Aunty Aau Kya at The Quint’s office’. The event seems to have been deleted from Facebook now. However, The Quint has already informed the Noida police about it.
The Quint took down their video featuring Deeksha because of the sheer volume of violent threats in which she was being targeted. Sohini Guharoy, another journalist at The Quint, is currently handling Deeksha’s Facebook profile and working with Facebook to report the vitriolic Facebook accounts.
“Last night when I logged off at 2am, there were about 20,000 threats and abusive messages. Now, there are over 50,000. It seems that these people have multiple accounts. Facebook is helping us by taking down some of the abusers’ profiles,” she says.
Deeksha says that while the trolling and abuse have not gotten to her head, she is taking some precautions. "My family and organisation are both supporting me. I do not feel threatened per se, but this is about my personal safety. We are in a profession where it is easy to get someone’s personal and contact details. I am taking precautions when I venture out, but I stand by what I did,” she asserts.