On Tuesday, at least seven stand-up comedians either deactivated their Twitter accounts or protected it after netizens began digging up their old tweets and videos in which they were "mocking" Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Some of these comedians even posted 'apology' videos as Twitterati began trending #HinduphobicComedyIndustry.
Sahil Shah, Azeem Banatwalla, Alokesh Sinha, Sanjay Rajoura, Aadar Malik, Neeti Palta and Rohan Joshi were the comedians who faced the wrath on social media.
Sahil Shah and Aadar Malik posted videos and apologized. "If I've offended anyone's sentiments please accept my humble apology," wrote Shah. "If my actions and words have hurt anyone's sentiments, here is my sincere apology," said Mailk.
Azeem Banatwalla took to Twitter and said, "It has come to my attention that many people have been upset and offended by tweets I have made many years ago. For that I would like to apologise unreservedly. Many of these were before I even starting doing comedy, but that does not excuse the fact that they were not acceptable."
"In their angst, many people have been pouring in the vilest of Islamophobic abuse to me, which is why I temporarily suspended my account. I am willing to accept my mistakes and grow as a person, and I sincerely hope these people can find it within themselves to do the same," he added.
Rohan Joshi quit Twitter and said that the attack has however moved beyond the virtual, with his phone number and address being leaked.
"The last few days have been a circus of abuse, threats, 2 am phone calls and anxious spirals," he wrote on Instagram, adding that he was going offline for a few days.
"See you on the other side whenever I guess. I’m sorry if I offended anyone’s sentiments with my words and I apologise without any qualifications and reservations for any words I have spoken that have hurt someone’s religious sentiments," he said.
Meanwhile, #HinduphobicComedyIndustry began to trend on Twitter.
BJP's Priti Gandhi wrote, "Its become a trend to publicly mock anything Hindu. Unlike other religions, Hindus are very tolerant. But if you stretch a rubberband beyond a limit, it will snap. Glad that some unfunny comedians are being questioned. They need to be made accountable. #HinduphobicComedyIndustry."
Here are a few Twitter reactions:
This comes on the heels of the Agrima Joshua episode. For the uninitiated, stand-up comedian Joshua's old video, in which she was seen cracking jokes on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's upcoming statue in the Arabian Sea, went viral on the internet and it was met with a tremendous amount of flak.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had also instructed Mumbai Police to take legal action against Joshua.