An article posted by an US news portal on an alleged rape festival in India claiming to be a satirical piece targeting the increase in sexual assaults on women in India, particularly Assam, has raised a storm in US and globally evoking sharp criticism from netizens.
The article, written by Paul Horner, was first uploaded on November 03 on the American website NationalReport.net under the heading: “The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week” a web portal which claims to be "America's No. 1 Independent News Team.”
Expectedly, the news quickly went viral on Thursday and was widely shared on the social media leaving readers across the globe in shock. Social media is now abuzz with reactions — many believing it to be factual news — slamming Assam for organizing such a festival. The report was later picked up by many sites and forums.
With the anger snowballing, a few others tried to explain that the report was indeed a satire. Like for instance freelance writer David Emery from About.com who rushed to the defense of the NationalReport.net as being only a “satirical article” on the Assam Rape Festival. Emery perhaps forgets that even satire, no matter how imaginative, cannot flout the norms of propriety.
However, many readers have pointed out that nowhere on the web was it written that it publishes fake news. One Arindom Phukan commenting on Facebook remarked that the website had nowhere mentioned that the story was a spoof. Ironically, the report was shared more than 89,500 times on Facebook and around 1,000 times on Twitter.
Check some of the shocking claims made in the NationalReport piece:
"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."
What made matters shoddier was that the article even came up with a historical perspective for the alleged rape festival in Assam according to an imaginary head of the festival called Madhuban Ahluwalia. This guy claimed the festival has been held there for thousands of years.
By and large the piece has absolutely no satirical elements in it whatsoever. It is downright crass, vulgar and out right scandalous. Check out one of the quotes the article claims one 23-year-old Harikrishna Majumdar said:
“I’m going to get the most rapes this year. I’ve been practicing raping my sister and her friends every day. I will be rape superstar number one! I will get the Baalkrishan prize this year for sure!”
As if this was not enough, the man who rapes the most will be awarded The Baalkrishan trophy and the trashy piece also furnishes a phone number to be contacted for more details.
David Emery, who rightly called the article “fictitious,” has clearly failed to gauge the enormity of the negative impact that the piece is having on India as a nation and Assam in particular. After going through the feedback to the piece, he would definitely concede it isn’t just a simple spoof anymore.
One Nigel Covington wrote: "After reading this I feel deeply violated for comment further.” Cursing the male gender, one Hannah wrote, "God have mercy on these innocent women... what kind of tradition is this. All you have to know is that God is watching you and you are going to pay for your sins." Clearly the damage has already been done.
Giving the link to the “news story,” the NationalReport posted on Facebook, "We would recommend foreign travelers avoid #India this week during the #AssamRapeFestival! Don't say we didn't warn you!" The Facebook page also claims itself to be one of the 'most accurate news' on the web.
Meanwhile, user Gitima Das taking up for India wrote: “WTF..,’ using the abbreviated version of a common slang phrase.
Prama wrote: "I tried to comment in one of those websites which were trying to spread such a “non-sense” lie regarding India. They were moderating every comment and did not allow my comment to appear. The author of that article didn’t have minimum knowledge about India. It is a clear western propaganda to malign Indian culture……”
Even Facebook users outside India agreed that the article was meant to be a satire but took objection to naming a state.
“It’s satire. But u can’t name a state or a country while writing a satirical piece,” wrote another Facebook user Tonmoy Borkotoky.
Web archives shows that NationalReport's now deleted disclaimer page read, "NationalReport is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways."
Thursday, the Assam criminal investigation department registered a suo motu case against the site for posting the defamatory article. Assam DGP Jayanto Narayan Choudhury has ordered a probe in Guwahati after the write-up was posted on Facebook.
The state CID has also moved the Centre's mandated agency against cybercrimes, the India Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN), for help.
Devraj Upadhyay, the senior superintendent of police said: “We have taken up asuo moto case. It is a sensitive issue and we will take up the matter with the matter with the website.”
The probe will be handled by the CID’s cyber crime cell.
According to Upadhya, preliminary investigations reveal that “the crime originated in Uganda.” He said they don’t know where the crime originated and that it takes time to pinpoint the exact place of origin of such crimes.
The Assam police have “written mails to the administrator of a Ugandan website, which has circulated the link to the defamatory article. We have sought their cooperation in our investigation," added Upadhya.
The CID believes that the cybercrime could be an act of defamation as well as conspiracy against Assam and the country. The CID has filed the case under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
National Report.Net: Assam Rape Festival India Begins Week
* Other links embedded in the report
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