STATE HOME Minister Anil Deshmukh has instructed police to take legal action against stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua, on allegations of insulting Chhatrapati Shivaraj Maharaj. Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik has demanded “strict” action against her and claimed that Joshua “insulted” the warrior king during a one-minute sketch, the one-year-old video of which has surfaced online.
On Saturday afternoon, Deshmukh tweeted, “I have instructed CP (Commissioner of Police) Mumbai and IG (Inspector General) Cyber to take legal action expeditiously. I urge everyone to maintain calm and law will take its course.”
I ve instructed CP Mumbai and IG Cyber to take legal action expeditiously ..I urge everyone to maintain calm and law will take its course. https://t.co/laFCARvKUC
— ANIL DESHMUKH (@AnilDeshmukhNCP) July 11, 2020
The video is part of a sketch Joshua had performed in April 2019 at a comedy and music cafe in Khar (West). In the video, which Joshua has since deleted but is still available on various social media platforms, she jokes about speculation over the state government’s plans to build a statue of the Maratha King in the Arabian Sea.
Several outraged Facebook and Twitter users began circulating details of employees of the café, where the show was held last year, and once it was revealed as the venue, MNS activists allegedly barged into the premises early on Saturday and damaged the stage and furniture in one of its performance rooms.
After facing abuse online, Joshua also issued an apology on Twitter. “I am sorry for having hurt the sentiments of the many followers of the great leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. My heartfelt apologies to followers of the great leader, who I sincerely respect. The video has already been taken down. Please amplify,” wrote Joshua.
— Agrima Joshua 🇮🇳 (@Agrimonious) July 11, 2020
Sarnaik and other users on Facebook and Twitter have taken offence to Joshua referring to the king as “Shivaji” and for not using the honorific widely used in the state. In a letter addressed to Deshmukh on Friday and in a video posted on his Twitter account, Thane MLA Sarnaik said it appeared to him that the comedian “either did not respect Shivaji Maharaj or did not know enough about him. I have written to the Home Minister asking him to arrest her. If you want to use the Maharaj’s name like this to earn money, our Maharashtra Yuvati Sena and Mahila Aghadi will not spare you”.
On Saturday afternoon, the café also issued a statement addressing the vandalism at the venue. “We are a family of artists. Not just comics, poets, storytellers, improvisers, singer-songwriters, musicians, technicians, engineers, lighting crew, sound recordists, photographers, videographers, editors, social media managers, decor and event planners, coordinators, programme curators, wait staff, hosts, cooks or housekeeping staff. To put forth a message, we devote our lives to finding creative expression. Not towards acts of barbaric violence or mindless sharing of violence,” read the statement.
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