Even as Indian soldiers are preparing to battle minus forty degree temperatures as they dig into their positions in Ladakh, India’s stand-up comedians are hard at work making light of their sacrifices.
In a clip that’s going viral, stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui can be seen making jokes about India losing the territory of Ladakh. “In PUBG, the zones keep getting smaller, and you keep losing stuff,” he says. “Will the same thing happen in India? Ladakh will go?” he continues. The audience is shocked at the assertion, and there are audible gasps and tut-tuts from the crowd. As an uneasy silence develops, Munawar Faruqui goes to on talk about Kashmir and Article 370.
This isn’t the first time that Munawar Faruqui has courted controversy with his supposed comedy. In a previous stand-up comedy bit, Munawar Faruqui had “joked” about how the burnt train of the Godhra massacre was “directed by Amit Shah” and “produced by RSS.”
In yet another stand-up “comedy” bit, Faruqui uses lyrics of popular Bollywood scores to mock Lord Rama over his 14 years of exile, and portrays Sita as an insecure wife suspicious of her husband Lord Rama’s loyalty.
If India had absolute freedom of speech, one could say that Munawar Faruqui was simply exercising his constitutional rights. But India has nothing even remotely resembling free speech. Just recently, a man in Bengaluru was arrested for making a joke on the Prophet Muhammad. Just this week, Sudarshan TV was pre-emptively banned for hosting a program that simply pointed out the rising number of candidates from a particular community in the UPSC services. Yet there appears to be no action against comedians, who under the garb of their freedom of speech, can mock India’s territorial integrity, spread patently fake news about communal massacres, and denigrate Hindu gods. India’s restrictions on freedom of speech, as things stand, only appear to be selectively applied and enforced.