Agnihotri has lately gained attention for his ‘anti-Maoist’ ideology, and for propagating an idea that there is ‘institutionalised terrorism’ in Indian society.
New Delhi: Who is Vivek Agnihotri, the man giving Twitter calls to compile a list of those defending ‘Urban Naxals’?
I want some bright young people to make a list of all those who are defending #UrbanNaxals Let’s see where it leads. If you want to volunteer with commitment, pl DM me. @squintneon would you like to take the lead?
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) August 28, 2018
Agnihotri’s tweet came hours before activists such as lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, poet P. Varavara Rao and journalist Gautam Navlakha were arrested on the charge of being conspirators in the Bhima-Koregaon violence earlier this year.
Agnihotri is a Bollywood filmmaker, who has directed Chocolate, Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, Hate Story and Buddha in a Traffic Jam, none of which made much of an impact at the box office. He has lately gained attention for his “anti-Maoist” ideology, and for propagating an idea that there is “institutionalised terrorism” in Indian society.
Agnihotri is married to yesteryear actress Pallavi Joshi, who was recently in the news for a YouTube video explaining the Rafale deal to netizens. According to the monologue, the deal not only benefited India, but was a source of national pride. The video and Joshi herself drew flak from YouTubers, who called it “misguiding viewers with sugar-coated information” and acting as a “BJP mouthpiece”.
What according to him is an ‘Urban Naxal’?
Agnihotri defines an ‘Urban Naxal’ as an intellectual, influencer or activist who is an invisible enemy of India. He has expounded on this idea in his book titled Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam, released on 27 May, 2018.
The book takes the reader on a journey through Agnihotri’s struggle while making Buddha in a Traffic Jam. It has chapters with titles like “Bloody Fascist Brahmin, go back!”, “Jesus is coming”, “The New Big Idea: Urban Naxal”, and “Intellectual Mafia”.
Agnihotri proposes that Naxals are planning to take over the Indian state with detailed plans. He believes there is a nexus between Maoists and their “supporters” in academia and the media. He tweeted pictures of a document to prove his point; the title reads ‘Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution’, purportedly a 2007 publication by Maoists.
For those who know #UrbanNaxals are a threat to India.
And for those who don’t believe.
This is the only document you need to read.
This is written by #UrbanNaxals themselves. pic.twitter.com/oaVoEzXg7I
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) August 29, 2018
Critics have, however, taken strong objection to the term ‘Urban Naxals’. They say it is loosely – and dangerously – being used to brand any city resident who is anti-establishment or critical of the political Right. This, they say, reeks of intolerance and could even instigate violence.
Other allegations he has made
Among his other allegations against ‘Urban Naxals’, Agnihotri claims that donations for Kerala flood victims were a guise for these people to gather funds to advocate their agenda. In an interview, he blamed journalists for not covering the plight of the people during the violent insurgency in Kashmir.
Early this year, when 98 per cent of students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University refused to comply with a new rule that made attendance compulsory, he tweeted saying that these students wanted to “Break India”.
98% JNU students say ‘Break India’. President and Parliament must listen to them. https://t.co/8PnRcpVMxy
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) March 10, 2018
A vocal critic of the Congress, Agnihotri also spoke up against Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on the party’s non-involvement in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. He said he was present when Sikhs were burnt and looted, and said he had “felt it”.
I have seen with my own eyes Congressis burning Sikhs beards, houses, cars and looting their TV sets, fridge, carpets etc. I have seen Kamalnath instructing his congressis. I have lived with my best friend whose beard and hair were burnt. I have seen it all. Felt it all.
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) August 27, 2018
Defiant reactions to tweet
Members of the civil society at large have reacted to his tweet with sarcasm and defiance. Pratik Sinha, founder of the portal AltNews, said Agnihotri’s phrase must be turned into a ‘joke’, and started the hashtag #MeTooUrbanNaxal.
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) August 29, 2018
Many academicians and journalists have adopted the hashtag, and have been tweeting at Agnihotri to add them to his list.
Meanwhile, some users have started compiling their own lists of ‘Urban Naxals’ and replying to Agnihotri.
To be Continue….
— Arvind Lodha🇮🇳 (@AB_BJP) August 28, 2018
Unsurprisingly, hate and threats of violence have started doing the rounds.
Results of @vivekagnihotri 's tweet is coming, what I mentioned in my last tweet. Kindly take note of this @TwitterSupport @Twitter
Vivek agnihotri is clearly inciting violence. pic.twitter.com/R7Sht1Cd0q
— मठाधीश (@aneesh33333) August 29, 2018
The handle @SatishAnna2 was later suspended by Twitter for issuing threats.