Announcing the arrest of 25-year-old Anumkareshwar Thakur in the ‘Sulli deals’ case on Sunday, Delhi Police said he was part of “trad” groups online — the first time a law enforcement agency has used the term, which has come to denote a group of individuals who are part of groups on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord devoted to targeting Dalits, Muslims and women.
According to a senior officer, Thakur told them that he was a member of ‘trad’ groups on Twitter and Telegram, following which they researched what it meant. Said the officer: “These are some ‘traditional’ and conservative groups. I saw them… the members seem to have oppressive views — from the caste system to women empowerment. They condemn changes happening around us (in society) and often share texts from scriptures or offensive memes.”
This is echoed by a 23-year-old student who is a member of several such groups: “Most members are upper caste… well read… and operate and interact only virtually. Talks often revolve around the shastras, ‘sanatan dharm’, Brahminical supremacy.”
Most of the platforms are rife with casteist slurs, abuse aimed at Ambedkar, and talk of replacing the Constitution with the Manusmriti. Islamophobia also figures heavily in such groups, many of which have been deleted since police investigation turned its attention towards them.
Several memes shared on the group, such as ‘Pepe the Frog’, and the language used draw heavily from the American alt-right, including the term ‘trad’ itself.
According to police, the group Thakur was part of was called the ‘Tradmahasabha’. He joined it on Twitter in January 2020, with an idea to troll Muslim women. “He was a member of several Trad groups that are now closed,” said an officer. One of the Twitter accounts he operated was called ‘sigmatrad’.
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