Monitoring hate-speech on social media has become an important subject of discussion lately. Considering the recent allegations against Facebook India’s official for condoning hate speech by BJP leaders, all eyes are on Facebook and the company can’t afford to create another blunder in content regulation. This could be why Facebook-owned Instagram took such a prompt action to delete a flagged verified profile for uploading a post that incited violence. The Instagram post in question was by Hindustani Bhau, an ex-Big Boss contestant who thinks of himself as a protector of Hindu culture, often calling out comedians and movies that offend his religious sensibilities. His new post calling for “action” against people who poke fun at Hindu Gods and religion triggered wide-spread outrage on social media.
The video was available on Instagram until Tuesday evening, it has now been taken down but solely because of several users flagging it for its troublesome content. It seems Instagram hadn’t noticed it before users brought it to their attention. Later, Instagram commented on his post saying they condone content that promotes illegal use of brute force and threaten people’s safety.
“We absolutely do not allow behavior that threatens the safety of our community and removed this content yesterday (Tuesday) for violating our Community Guidelines,” an Instagram spokesperson told the Print.
One of the petitioners in favour of suspending his account was lyricist Puneet Sharma, who posted a screenshot of Instagram acknowledging his anonymous complaint against the controversial post by Hindustani Bhau. As the caption for the post, Puneet wrote, "kal aur aaenge nagamon kee khilatee kaliyaan chunane vaale, mujhase behatar kahane vaale, tumase behatar sunane vaale."
Users’ responses to Hindustani Bhau’s video
In the 2.09 minutes long Instagram video, Hindustani Bhau or Vikas Pathak (his real name) says, “System side mein, complaint side mein, ab inko marna hai bas. (Put the system and complaints aside, we just have to hit them now).”
He uses obscene language insulting the people who make fun or mock his religion or God, saying he’s had enough and now it’s time to take action.
Kunal Kamra, a famous comedian who often speaks out on social and political issues, took to Twitter to condemn the hate-filled and outright threat of violence Hindustani Bhau was posing through his Instagram.
“Calling for open violence is a crime. This is a mob building & hate spreading exercise. This is deeply alarming. Could lead to violence & an artist not getting due process,” tweeted Kamra, who also remarked that Phatak’s statements such as “system side main” is an insult to the Constitution.
Phatak or Hindustani Bhau wasn’t happy with the pointed attack on him and had responded on Instagram that he will be “revealing the truth” about the comedian soon as reported by The Print.
Many other users also agreed with Kamra and tagged the Mumbai Police and Maharashtra, Home Minister to bring the video to their attention.
One user tweeted, "This man #hindustanibhau has a verified account on Instagram and he has the job to give an open call to violence. He does so in his every video. This can create a mob and result in danger. For all of this, he was the part of #BiggBoss last year. @AnilDeshmukhNCP @MumbaiPolice."
While another wrote, "Vikas Fhatak aka Hindustani Bhau has neither "Hindustani" traits nor would I call such uneducated filth "BHAU" His thoughts are no better than Talibani or ISIS. ALL he deserves is a jail cell. He has no place in any well cultured or well-mannered society. #Bhau #hindustanibhau."
Who is ‘Hindustani Bhau’?
Regular viewers of the Big Boss series may recognize the man in the video as Vikas Pathak from season 13. Pathak or Hindustani Bhau had a verified account on Instagram with a following of 3.4 million users until his account was deleted. It’s a little strange that his verified Facebook account is still active as his earlier videos were also inundated with abusive content.
It’s also a little mind-boggling how despite posting such derogatory and problematic content, he enjoyed the privileges of having a verified account on Instagram. This is because Instagram’s screening criteria only require the user to be a real person and the account to be public and represent someone who is ‘well-known’ and a ‘brand’, which he fulfilled.
As discussed, this isn’t the first time his controversial and ‘well-known’ personality has been the face of controversies. In June, after the release of Netflix’s Bulbbul, Patak went on a rant about the movie and how it insulted ‘Indian Gods’, he also urged the government to take action against such content. His tweet read:
Before slamming Anushka Sharma’s Bulbbul, he had criticized a web series, XXX 2 created by Ekta Kapoor and Shobha Kapoor. He took it as far as filing a police complaint against the two. He had even shared a now-deleted video to explain his reasoning behind such a drastic measure, “Our army is our pride and the woman indulges in a sexual act with a man, who wears her husband’s uniform. This is shameful as they have made a joke of our soldiers. The police have assured that they will investigate the matter, and keep me updated about the same.”
While it’s a relief that his account was finally reported and taken down, but the fact that his account was reaching out to the masses is a little concerning. Before his Instagram account was deleted, he had 3.4 million followers, a humungous following for a reality TV show star. He had the means and audiences to disseminate disturbing ideas of violence and extremism, which is the most chilling part about his platform. Many people might believe that stating one’s annoyance or disagreement is a part of freedom of speech, which it is, however, threatening someone’s safety or inciting people to take the law in their own hands isn’t.