New Delhi: Dhruv Shah, a 23-year-old content creator and actor, is a content writer, actor and is a two-time TEDx speaker. His recent post on Instagram Shah had read out a poem on ‘rape culture’. Following which he received rape threats.
He was added to an Instagram group with 13 men who threatened to gangrape him and make a porn film out of it if he didn’t delete a video which he had posted on July 13, 2020, on the rape threats being sent to Mumbai-based standup comedian Agrima Joshua.
In the video, Shah recites a poem which underlines why one shouldn’t hurl rape threats at anyone in the garb of nationalism. The video doesn’t make any reference to any person, religion or a community.
“This is the first time that I have experienced something of this sort,” said Shah.
“I have never got this sort of attack. When I got added to that group, my body started shaking. I couldn’t control my urine after reading those vulgar messages,” he said. “Some men also said ‘Jai Shri Ram‘.”
The people who bullied him, he said, possibly did not quite grasp the message he tried to convey in his video. He also said that some of the group members didn’t even know why they had been added.
“They think that if I am speaking against rape culture, I am speaking in favour of comedians making fun of religion. Or if I am anti-rape, I am anti-religious – which is completely false,” he said.
After exiting the group and restricting access to his profile, he made a post tagging the people who sent him the rape threats, as well as the handle of Mumbai police. In the comments section, several more people have tagged the Mumbai police, asking it to take action.
Soon after that, Shah started getting threats from an Instagram page and a couple of individuals, who asked him to delete the latest post and take the July 13 video down.
In a bid to try and get a response from Shah, one Instagram user even posted a story saying that Shah would be responsible for his suicide.
“When I replied to his story, he started making fun of me,” he said.
The whole episode, he said, has made him realise just how difficult the environment must be for women in the country, who are frequently at the receiving end of such threats – both online and offline.
“If someone like me, who is privileged, is feeling threatened like this, I can’t even imagine what women in this country must be experiencing,” he said.
Although the threats have now petered down and most of the group members have deleted their accounts, the culture of intimidation, he said, won’t stop unless necessary action is taken. As of now, neither the Mumbai police nor any authority has reached out to him.
While he might take some time to get back to his previous routine, the rape threats, he says, are going to affect the whole process of how he writes and produces his content. “I had three pieces in the pipeline, but I am now afraid to produce and film those. They talk about how India doesn’t belong to only those who speak Hindi and is a land of many languages,” he said. “As an artist, I don’t know what to put out anymore.”