06, Aug 2022 | CJP Team
CJP’s relentless efforts in countering hate speech have shown results. The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has acted on the complaint filed against Deepak Sharma for his derogatory statements against ‘Allah’ that were shared in an audio chat room on a social audio app called ‘Clubhouse’.
In its letter dated July 29, 2022 to the Superintendent of Amroha Police, Uttar Pradesh, the NCM has directed the officer to investigate and respond with a report within 21 days so that the Commission may take the matter into consideration.
In June 2021, CJP had brought to the NCM’s attention, a screen recording of the audio chatroom organised by Deepak Sharma titled Mahadev ko gaali India mein legal, (Translation: Verbally abusing Mahadev is legal in India) where he can be heard making a series of extremely crude and derogatory comments about the anatomy and biology of Allah (the word used for God in Islam), which cannot be repeated in print.
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The complaint brought to the Commission’s attention how Deepak Sharma has been misusing social media platforms to build up a following, when actually his credentials are deeply suspect and questionable.
Here is a video by CJP explaining how he has misused Facebook as a platform.
Interestingly, Deepak Sharma’s ‘main’ Twitter account @TheDeepak2020 was suspended because of mass reporting previously. He had then logged in from his alternate account @TheDeepak2020In (set up in 2020) and complained on video to his followers to help him take his “voice to the Twitter CEO.” However, even this account has been suspended by Twitter for ‘violating its rules’.
The complaint also brought to light the manner in which Uttar Pradesh police have been obliging several of Deepak Sharma’s ‘requests’ and filing First Information Reports (FIR) against social media users for allegedly joking about “Shivling”, a symbol holy to Hindus. These jokes started after a “Shivling” was allegedly found in the compound of Gyanvapi mosque, though mosque authorities say that it was part of an old and defunct fountain. It is this “Shivling” vs fountain narrative that spawned a series of jokes on Twitter, and Sharma took it upon himself to report people to posted such jokes. In a series of tweets, Sharma retweeted or posted screengrabs, identifying and ‘reporting’ people to the police, and giving the cops instructions on what to do. He would then celebrate his ‘wins’ as the police would register FIRs against those he had identified, especially if the social media user was a Muslim.
Shockingly, the UP police were allegedly allowing him to instigate criminal complaints. They acted with exceptional urgency to Sharma’s complaints against a few jokes, whereas no action was taken against Deepak Sharma himself for committing grave human rights violations and aggravated form of insult to religion with malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of Muslim minorities.
The complaint highlighted how Deepak Sharma confidently claimed that he will ensure that these social media users are charged with IPC Sections and Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which has been struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional on grounds of violating the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
The Complaint claimed that posting jokes or memes on social media cannot be a ground for arresting anyone. It argues that this kind of a pick and choose method undertaken by the UP police to arrest someone only to the whims and fancies of a hate offender and extreme right-wing leader such as Deepak Sharma, who brazenly boasts about his own far-right ideology and repeatedly makes hate speech, is fundamentally wrong and against the law.
CJP was one of the first to flag his profile to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on December 27, 2018 and had detailed how Facebook helped news and media channels to team up with such offenders to share and transmit discriminatory content.