Today Twitter has become a battlefield for people to start a smoke storm amidst the nationalist debate in India. On Sunday, actor Paresh Rawal started a commotion on social media land as he tweeted, “Instead of tying stone pelter on the army jeep tie Arundhati Roy!” It is crucial to note that apart from being an actor, Rawal is also a Lok Sabha parliamentarian from Gujarat in the BJP government and he is addressing a noted writer and a Booker Prize winner.

https://twitter.com/SirPareshRawal/status/866345474722320388

Rawal’s comment has created a controversy in the virtual as well as real world as people are rushing in with their stance on the statement. His comment comes after an incident in the Kashmir Valley when the security forces tied an alleged stone pelter as human shield on their jeep to send out a strong message against stone pelters in Kashmir.

The actor’s tweet has received about 11,000 retweets, 20,000 likes and 5,000 responses in two days. Many celebrities also came out with their views on Rawal’s tweet. Union Minister Smriti Irani commented, “Nowhere will we, in any way, support any violent message by anybody, against any individual of the country,” reported NDTV.

“Celebrities are not obliged to be intelligent or thoughtful! In a free country like ours, celebrities are perfectly within their rights to suck up to those in power, promote their films, books or events without having to explain themselves to anyone”- Nitin Pai

Actress Swara Bhaskar opposed Rawal’s argument and wrote in a Facebook post, “It’s one thing to disagree with someone, even hate them… but Wow!!!!!!! #PareshRawal takes shamelessness and irresponsibility to other level.. As a Parliamentarian he openly threatened a woman and called for a brutal act of violence against her on Twitter. Disgusting! Go join the #GauRakshaks Paresh sir, your ilk are out in murderous mobs- go satiate your masculine rage parading as faux- nationalism!!! What a fall from grace for a fine fine actor!!!!

ALSO READ: If you are a woman and if you have an opinion, you will be threatened: Gurmehar Kaur

Many twitteratti viewed Rawal’s tweet as a motive to better his position in the party and incite violence for no reason. Writer Nilanjana Roy started a thread on her Twitter timeline inspired by a Telegraph article and observed the timing of Rawal’s tweet and the upcoming release of Roy’s new book- ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’- after nearly two decades of releasing award-winning novel, ‘The God of Small Things’.

Co-founder of Takshashila Institute, Nitin Pai talked to SheThePeopl.TV about his views on the controversy and said, “Celebrities are not obliged to be intelligent or thoughtful! In a free country like ours, celebrities are perfectly within their rights to suck up to those in power, promote their films, books or events without having to explain themselves to anyone.

He added, “Unlike mere celebrities, political leaders, especially elected representatives and public officials, are accountable to the public for what they say and the views they espouse. Obviously, we must hold them to account if they incite violence or encourage illegal behaviour; but we must also hold them to account for maintaining decorum and civility. This is true if the MP is a non-celebrity; it’s all the more true if the MP is one.”

ElsaMarie D’silva of Safecity feels that the tweet by Mr Paresh Rawal was very unfortunate. “It is very hateful and inciting violence but I won’t necessarily term it as gender abuse. Though women in general are soft targets. The hate is reflective of political ideology and is being used to pander to a section of society that conforms with this kind of thinking.”

On being asked if Rawal’s act is a case of celebrity power abuse, she claimed, “Whilst it may appear that quite a few celebrities are abusing their power to grab headlines, there are many others who are actually using their power or voice to leverage change. Case in point being Abhay Deol.”

ElsaMarie is of the opinion that Freedom of Expression is a right and must be used mindfully. “We cannot have insensitive and hateful comments by trigger-happy politicians or leaders. And just as Mr Rawal has the right to express himself, he must fully expect others to denounce him for his hate speech.”

Several others, including Nilanjana, advocated for Freedom of Expression. She said, “When I reported on FoE and censorship in India, I remained optimistic that the country would never lose its basic DNA – a sense of fairness, a respect for multiple voices, argumentativeness, a pleasure in creativity.”

She added, “Worldwide, these values are at risk when you see a rise in mob violence, propaganda, the division of citizens into policers and targets.”

Picture credit- India Today

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