To Arrest Or Release Aryan Khan? The Futility Of Twitter Hashtag Wars

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An apt representation of how the Mumbai cruise drugs case has divided people are the hashtags of ‘arrest Aryan Khan’ and ‘release Aryan Khan’ trending on Twitter this week. The 23-year-old, son of celebrity couple Gauri and Shah Rukh Khan, is among the group of youngsters named and held by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) following a drug bust at a party this past weekend.

Khan, hands-down the most high-profile name on the list, has been in detention since October 3. Though NCB officials said no drugs were found on him, they are seeking extended custody of Khan citing “incriminating” WhatsApp chats found on his phone and pursuit of a bigger catch. A Mumbai court is hearing his bail appeal on October 7. Follow the case here.

There is immense noise around the case – not so much for the drug bust and the illegality of substances found but for the sole fact that the son of one of the world’s most prominent actors has emerged as the front face. From Bollywood, there is apparent support for Khan from heavyweight stars like Hrithik Roshan and Salman Khan.

The rest of the country, meanwhile, is occupied with hashtag wars.

‘Arrest Aryan Khan’ Trends On Twitter Ahead Of Bail Hearing

The astronomic and frenzied fan following of Shah Rukh Khan, wielding posters, placards and slogans, are rushing to dub his son’s custody “unfair” on social media. The opportune example of Rhea Chakraborty’s witch-hunt in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case and a related drugs case last year is passionately being cited while defending Khan, who many think is suffering a similar ordeal.

But how true is that really? And with the conscience that Chakraborty is being brought up now, was she supported back when her dignity, life and career were put at stake all through 2020? The duality of the matter leads one to question just how authentic social media outrage and solidarity is.

But then again, as some netizens have rightly pointed out, Khan’s case is at a serious threat of being given an ugly, communal colour, especially with the climate of hate that has ravaged the country of late. Where Chakraborty was crucified for her gender, Khan may be attacked for being Muslim.

And unsurprisingly, yet another section of the public is demanding the arrest of Khan and a “cleanup” of what they claim is a drug-infested film industry. Outright misogyny is on full, shameless display in this part of the discourse about Khan, whose mother Gauri they are blaming for the kind of upbringing she has given him.

“Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.” Khaled Hosseini’s quote couldn’t have rung louder and truer.


With what I feel is unwarranted attention to the case, and the younger Khan in particular, the public is making hasty verdicts while the puzzle still lies incomplete. Will the pieces to complete them even be made available? Who knows? Law, order and justice systems hardly ever run clean. And neither does public discourse when it comes to controversies.

What do social media hashtags do, except regurgitate biases? Do those orchestrating trends and numbers for or against Khan online seek to sway court decisions? What are they yielding? Would it not be best to lay off blatant judgment and instead aim for a more refined understanding of the matter that is shaped by less bitterness, more truth-seeking?

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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