An American website’s satirical piece apparently addressing the grotesquely high prevalence of rape in India has drawn sharp criticism, particularly leaving the northeastern state of Assam seething in anger.
Written by Paul Horner, the write-up with the header “The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week”, was first published six days ago on American humour website NationalReport.net and later picked up by many other news media.
Infamous for pushing the boundaries of good taste, the website put up the article which spoke of an imaginary annual rape festival in Assam where the men competed over who could rape the most women, and the women jested of getting raped in previous competitions.
“Men in India are already beginning to celebrate as the annual Assam Rape Festival is just days away. Every non-married girl age 7-16 will have the chance to flee to safety or get raped,” the write-up said, attracting sharp comments, many believing the satire to be true.
The social media was abuzz with reactions to the piece, which has so far been shared more than 312,000 times on Facebook and around 2.900 times on Twitter.
“I’m going to get the most rapes this year. I’ve been practicing all year. I rape my sister and her friends every day. I will be rape superstar number one! I will get the Baalkrishan prize this year for sure!,” the write-up quoted one Harikrishna Majumdar telling reporters.
Attempting to make light of some of the high profile rape cases that have made headlines in India in recent years, the satirical piece also dragged in other states of India.
“The Assam Festival began in 43BC when Baalkrishan Tamil Nadu raped everyone in his village of Ludhiana. Baalkrishan Tamil Nadu is remembered every year at this event, in fact the trophy given to the man with the most rapes is called The Baalkrishan,” the offensive piece reads.
The write-up links to a real Indian charity that seeks donations for Indian women, and it also includes a phone number for a hotline, making it even harder to distinguish whether it is real or fake.
With many readers saying it had denigrated the image of Assam in the world, the write-up has sparked widespread protests in the state.
Meanwhile, the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Assam Police has taken up suo moto investigations into the matter.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi denounced the piece as “demonic” and “gruesome”.
“The fraudulent and extremely unethical article about the completely fictitious festival is an act of serious disrespect and total disregard shown towards the humble and unsuspecting people of Assam,” said Gogoi.
“The details in the article are gruesome to the point of being demonic and the writer of such a piece of pure evil is not fit for human society.
“The young and energetic people of our emerging state are busy in the pursuit of prosperity and global relevance. In our march towards a brighter Assam, these deliberate acts of devilish mischief will not be tolerated,” he told the media.
Bharat Narah, press adviser to Gogoi, told Gulf News that “the Assam Rape Festival article is not at all humorous. It is distasteful, unethical, abominable, despicable and must be abhorred by all sections of society. We have taken up a suo moto case against the website and the author of the piece. It is a highly sensitive matter which cannot be ignored. We are assessing all our options and are in touch with the Cyber Cell of the Police Department.”
“Regardless of race, culture, or nationality, any decent and moral person should be offended by this filth. Media plays a very critical role in forming opinions. If media will start acting so naively, then the responsibility of spreading information through media should be taken away. We Indians know that this news is totally fake but people in other parts of the world are getting the wrong message about our nation. This mischief by the media should be dealt with very strictly,” Narah added.