New Delhi: Television host Raghav Juyal has attracted widespread criticism for his alleged racist comments directed towards an Assamese child contestant on a dance reality show. Leading the condemnation, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma called the comments “totally unacceptable” even as Juyal sought to defend himself, saying a specific section has been taken “out of context”.
The controversy erupted after a clip from the television show, ‘Dance Deewane’ on Colors TV, went viral on social media. ThePrint couldn’t ascertain when the episode aired.
In the viral clip, Juyal can be seen spouting gibberish, allegedly meant to be the Chinese language, before introducing Assamese dance contestant, six-year-old Gunjan Sinha. The gibberish comments included words and phrases like “momo” and “ching chong”.
The judges on the show, actor Madhuri Dixit and choreographer Remo D’Souza, and the audience were seen laughing along.
The remarks sparked condemnation and calls for action against the TV presenter. On Tuesday, the Assam CM said racism has “no place in our country” as he highlighted the incident. Several others also criticised Juyal.
It has come to my notice that a popular reality show host has used racist rhetoric against a young participant from Guwahati. This is shameful and totally unacceptable. Racism has no place in our country and we should all condem it unequivocally.
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 16, 2021
— Monica (@TrulyMonica) November 15, 2021
This is unacceptable! Assamese are Indian not Chinese so better call them in a right manner.@TheRaghav_Juyal this will land you in jail if Gunjan or her family will complaint against you.
— Divya Gandotra Tandon (@divya_gandotra) November 15, 2021
Retired IPS officer L.T. Bishnoi even requested the Assam Police to look into the matter.
— Dr L R Bishnoi, IPS (@lrbishnoiassam) November 15, 2021
A third rate comedian – making an insensitive audience laugh ! Then these people justify and question us Northeastern people why we don’t feel like we are part of mainstream India ? https://t.co/uFT18YookU
— Pradyot_Tripura (@PradyotManikya) November 16, 2021
Juyal issues apology, people term it as ‘gaslighting’
On Monday, Juyal issued an apology on his Instagram account, saying a specific section from the episode has been taken “out of context”. He said the “gibberish” was a running joke with Sinha as she had earlier claimed to speak “Chinese”.
“I am so sorry if anyone’s sentiments have been hurt. It was not my or Colors channel’s motive to do that. Before showing just one selective clip from the show, I would want you to watch all episodes to understand the context,” he said.
“People need to see all episodes. This is a joke that we play along with Gunjan as when she was asked what her special talent was, she had said that she can speak in Chinese, essentially gibberish, so I have had conversations with her in gibberish many times in the past,” he says.
He added that many of his close friends and relatives are in different parts of the Northeast and he is not racist.
Former National Students Union of India leader Angellica Aribam said the “apology” was essentially “gaslighting”, and Juyal was seeking to justify his remarks by saying he has friends in the Northeast.
Just watched the apology posted by @TheRaghav_Juyal. He gaslights the girl, says he isn’t racist with the classic — I’ve family & friends in NE. He also tried to justify it by saying they’ve been doing this throughout the series. Seriously, @ColorsTV???https://t.co/kZAAQsTEx7
— Angellica Aribam (@AngellicAribam) November 15, 2021
The controversial remarks come in the backdrop of a spate of attacks against people from the Northeast, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic over its alleged Chinese origin. Several people complained of being abused with slurs like “corona”, “chinky”, etc. Last year, a Delhi University student was also spat at and called coronavirus.