Offended by the poster of a Bengali play titled ‘Hindu Chor’, a Facebook user Sumantra Maiti reached out to Kolkata police via its Facebook page, writing that the name “hurts his religious sentiments”.

Soon after, ‘Hindu Chor’ became a viral topic on social media, with many users echoing similar sentiments of anger and hurt.

One of the users who shared the post on Twitter is followed by Prime Minister Modi. He blamed the Mamata Banerjee-led government for giving leeway to such hate against Hindus in the name of free speech.

Unsurprisingly, it was also picked up by hate-monger and serial purveyor of fake news Shankhnaad who called Hindus “stupid” for tolerating and allowing such things to happen.

The undue attention received by the one-man play caused Kolkata police to take action against “attempts to disrupt the communal harmony of the state”. Taking note of Maiti’s complaint, Kolkata police took to Facebook to let people know that they have successfully taken down posters of ‘Hindu Chor’ from across the city and have also identified those associated with the play to take necessary legal actions against them.

ধর্মীয় বিদ্বেষমূলক একটি পোস্টার শহরের একটি জায়গায় নজরে এসেছে আমাদের। ওই পোস্টার সরিয়ে দিয়েছি আমরা। যাঁরা ওই পোস্টার…

Posted by Kolkata Police on Monday, 18 June 2018

Akshay Singh, BJP IT cell in-charge, Kolkata tweeted against the play and wrote that Hindu Jagaran Manch registered a complaint in Hastings police station. The complaint termed the name of the play “highly objectional” and that it “hurts the sentiments of Hindu communities as a whole and thereby promoting disharmony and feeling of hatred among different religious groups.”

Anti-climactic ending to an exaggerated plotline

As it turns out, the play wasn’t against Hindus, but the complete opposite. West Bengal BJP member Aparajita Chakraborty revealed that it is based on the “hardships and persecution faced by Bangladeshi Hindus every day.” She says in her Facebook comment – “Our friend has tried to paint this picture in this play, let us all watch it on 25th June and then decide whether it warrants any protest. Only Hindus from Bangladesh are aware of the pathetic situation that they are in currently. No one is there to support them.”

Debashish Iyer, who according to his profile is a journalist and a former social media strategist for BJP, also commented that the play was, in fact, pro-Hindus.

Director changes the name of the play

Owing to the backlash received on social media, director Probir Mondal decided to change the name of his play from ‘Hindu Chor’ to ‘Giren Chor’. In a Facebook post he wrote – “I apologise to everyone, please do not create any further controversy. I am changing the name of my play ‘Hindu Chor’ to ‘Giren Chor’. This is the brave tale of a Hindu ‘Chor’. I do not want to offend any religious sensibilities, but I apologise if I have done so unintentionally.”

Sakoler kachhe Ami khoma chaichhi,eta niye Apnara R Bitarko Toiri korbenna please,AMAR *Hindu chore*Natoker Nam…

Posted by Probir Mondal on Monday, 18 June 2018

A scroll through Mondol’s Facebook profile gives an idea of his political inclination. Despite being a BJP supporter, he was pulled into the controversy and abused on social media by right-wing crusaders. A right-winger, one Rajib Roy, posted Mondol’s phone number on Facebook asking all “proud Hindus” to call him in protest.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s named was dragged into the controversy, blaming her for providing a safe haven to those circulating objectional statements against Hindus. CM Banerjee has often herself in the crosshairs of fake news purveyors and rumour-mongers who often portray her as Muslim and Bangladeshi sympathiser.

An entire episode of hate-mongering along communal lines started and ended with people of identical political beliefs, a reminder of the famous quote by German theologian Martin Niemöller – “…then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

A Facebook user Utsav Guhathakurta tipped Alt News about the controversy and helped us with the translations.

About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.