Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomeIndiaWhat is consent, asks ‘Liberal Doge’, booked for sexist-casteist slurs & ‘auctioning’...

What is consent, asks ‘Liberal Doge’, booked for sexist-casteist slurs & ‘auctioning’ women online

Ritesh Jha is ‘absconding’, claim Mumbai Police sources, but he denies it. On Wednesday, he was named in FIR filed by Hindu woman who was ‘auctioned’ on Clubhouse.

Text Size:

New Delhi: On 13 May last year, Ritesh Jha purportedly hosted an ‘Eid Special’ livestream on YouTube. During the stream, he posted images of Pakistani women — taken from their social media accounts, without consent — and invited viewers to “gawk at them” and “rate them”.

Titled ‘Liberal Doge Live’ after his online identity, the stream told viewers to “throw money” at the women virtually using a purported UPI link. The language used to talk about them was sexually explicit and Islamophobhic.

The handle that purportedly posted the event on Twitter — @liberaldogereal — is inactive now. But soon after the stream, several Indian women were ‘put on sale’ on Twitter. Moreover, Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai, the now-infamous open-source apps to ‘auction’ Muslim women, came in the months that followed.

Jha, a 24-year-old native of Bihar and a “self-taught techie” who found notoriety for his act, is now ‘absconding’ in a fresh case of harassment, according to Mumbai Police sources.

On Wednesday, he was named in an FIR filed in Mumbai by a 33-year-old Hindu woman, who was ‘auctioned’ along with four other women.

Jha has been booked for passing lewd sexist remarks and casteist slurs on 27 November 2021, allegedly using the ID ‘Uwu’ on chat app Clubhouse. The FIR said Jha also used other IDs on the app — ‘secular doge’, ‘liberal doge’, and ‘Ritesh Jha’ — to target the women.

Speaking to ThePrint via Twitter texts and Instagram call, Jha said he isn’t “absconding and is ready to cooperate with the police”. However, he refused to disclose his contact details while claiming to currently be in Gurugram.

Asked about the livestream last year, Jha questioned the idea of consent and said he “just took photos” that were available online.

“I didn’t auction Indian women. I have apologised already for what I did. Also, what is consent? The photos of those Pakistani women were on social media for public view. I just took them,” he told ThePrint. “I only rated them on their beauty.”

Asked about objectification of women and passing sexist remarks, he said, “This is no logic.”

On questions about feeling responsible for starting the ‘Eid Special’, which was followed by Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai apps, he reiterated that he only “appreciated beauty”. He also denied that he “auctioned” Hindu women on Clubhouse.

Hours before speaking to ThePrint, he posted an apology on Twitter. However, the account was deleted later.

Also read: ‘Women in India never more unsafe online or offline’: IIT-B, DU alumni write to PM & President

Jha’s social media activity

Ritesh Jha wasn’t active on social media for a couple of months after the uproar over the livestream, but made a comeback in December on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. This week, he purportedly made a “comeback” video — “I am back #@$& (abuse)” – on a YouTube channel called ‘Liberal Doge’. The channel has now been taken down.

“I made a comeback because I have been abused by some people repeatedly. I had nothing to do with Sulli Deals or Bulli Bai,” he said, distancing himself from Niraj Bishnoi — the alleged Bulli Bai ‘mastermind’ who put Muslim women ‘on sale’ in May 2021. 

“Yes, he came out in my support, but I didn’t care,” Jha said when asked about his relationship with Bishnoi.

Jha’s Instagram account is filled with sexist and Islamophobic content. On his now-deleted Twitter account, his bio said ‘Internet Celebrity and Nightmare for Leftards’. He recently posted ‘#ReleaseYatiNarshinganadji’, in support of the controversial mahamandaleshwar of the influential Juna akhara (monastic order).

Narsinghanand was arrested last week from Haridwar for a December speech at a Dharam Sansad (religious congregation), in which he called for Hindus to take up arms against Muslims. He was also booked for making “objectionable” remarks about women.

From astrologer to YouTube influencer

According to Jha, he comes from a well-to-do family with an agricultural background. He moved to Gurugram over a decade ago after breaking ties with family. “I did my 12th in commerce from Gurugram itself,” he said, but refused to disclose his educational background in detail. He described himself a “self-taught techie”.

“I have done a range of jobs, from odd jobs to being a video consultant. I lost my last job in Covid. Before that I was also an astrologer briefly, after pursing an (astrology) course,” he said.

Before May 2021, Jha ran seven YouTube channels, with a total of “2.5 lakh subscribers”, he claimed.

“I would upload 3-4 videos everyday on an average and earn a good amount of money, with which I survived the last eight months. All that is over now. I have decided to quit social media, my savings are exhausted. My channels are shut down,” he said. “I haven’t figured out what to do next. Will figure after legal trouble.”

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: Sulli Deals, a form of hate speech, must be condemned & prosecuted, UN official says


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular