Nandita Deka, a Guwahati-based digital news media anchor, shared a post on Facebook on Tuesday detailing abuses hurled at her in the comments of her show, on the official page of the news platform she works at. Deka writes in Assamese how the name-calling and personal attacks on her, in the comment section, has left her dejected and feeling mentally harassed. Deka works with a local Assamese web-based news platform, The CrossCurrent and has been an anchor here for the last one year. In a conversation with SheThePeople, she reveals that whenever she is reporting on anything against PM Narendra Modi-led government, she gets abused enormously.
In the post, she writes (It has been roughly translated), “I am working with CrossCurrent for last one year. I treat the audience as my God. As an anchor, my job is reading news which are prepared by others. I receive feedback based on the performance. Some criticise while some people correct me.
Look at the comments in screenshot by a section of audience. Due to difference of opinion they are ill treating me to such disgusting level. Free speech rights for citizens is there but how do we accept such comments? Constitution doesn’t permit such abuses. Please tell me how do I proceed in life with such mental harassment? I want justice.” Along with this, she shared screenshots of the abusive comments.
The 25-year-old anchor claims that the trolling and cyber-bullying increased in the last one week when she was reporting on walls being built in Ahmedabad. “It has been happening for a very long time, but the trolling and abuse increased after I reported on Delhi elections in which BJP lost and on the kind of efforts that were taken by the central government to cover slums in Gujarat. When I report on any news against the BJP, the trolls start to abuse me personally. And when I tried to find who these people were, I found that all these people trolling me and abusing me belong to BJP’s IT cell through their FB profiles.” SheThePeople could not independently verify this claim.
Deka also states that she only reads the news script given to her by the journalists and writers and yet, she is the one who gets bullied on the news platform’s official Facebook page. She also told us that she spoke to her seniors about this in her office.”I have raised this issue several times with my seniors but no one seems bothered. When I realized that they weren’t going to take any action, I decided to share it on my FB profile,” she adds.
After the post went viral with over 500 likes, around 400 comments and 137 shares, Deka has found the support and encouragement from fellow Assamese journalists. She has spoken to a lawyer and will now be filing an FIR against everyone who abused her in the comments. “I have got the print outs of the comments and the profiles of those who made those nasty comments and I am determined to take this further,” says Deka.
“It has been happening for a very long time but the trolling and abuse increased after I reported on Delhi elections in which BJP lost and on the kind of efforts that were taken by the central government to cover slums in Gujarat. When I report on any news against the BJP, the trolls start to abuse me personally.”
On how online harassment has affected her, Deka says that she doesn’t feel like going to the office these days because of all these messages. “When I am doing my job, I think of those messages and it gets very discouraging. A lot of people are telling me that since I am in the media industry, I should develop a thick skin and be okay with it but why should I? If it has happened with me, it will happen with every girl who thinks of becoming an anchor and I cannot let that happen,” she says adding that she will not quit her job because of the harassment. She is encouraging more women to file complaints against gendered online bullying.
Picture credit- Cosmopolitan