Munmum Dutta, a famous TV actress who appears on the popular show Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah, has been booked under Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST act for using casteist slur in a video. Dutta recently shared a video in which she was interacting with fans, and talking about her make-up, she says, “Lip tint ko halka sa blush ki tarah laga liya hai because main YouTube pe aane wali hoon aur main achha dikhn chahti hoon. Bh***i ki tarah nahi dikhna chahti hoon.”
In Mumbai slang, Bh***i is a term used for the people employed in sanitation and manual scavenging work, but it is also used as a general abuse. Since the video was released, Dalit activists started trending #ArrestMunmumDutta.
Dalit rights activist Rajat Kalsan registered a complaint against Munmun Dutta at Hansi Police Station in Hissar, Haryana, under the SC/ST act. Kalsan, who has her Twitter bio in the Arabic alphabet too – just like many ‘rights’ activists’ – shared a copy of FIR on Twitter.
First information report has been registered against the actress Munmun Dutta @ Babita ji at police station City Hansi under section 3(1) (u) of SC ST POA act.
Complaint is got registered by dalit rights activist Rajat kalsan. pic.twitter.com/Z7ZTfZXa54
— Rajat Kalsan رجت کلسن (@rajatkalsan3010) May 13, 2021
The so called Dalit activits are haunting Dutta despite the fact the she released an apology and also revealed her ignorance about the actual meaning of the term due to language barrier.
— Munmun Dutta (@moonstar4u) May 10, 2021
In her apology, Dutta said, “It was never said with the intent to insult, intimidate, humiliate or hurt anyone’s feelings. Because of my language barrier, I was genuinely misinformed about the meaning of the word. Once I was made aware of its meaning I immediately took the part down. I have utmost respect for every single person from every caste, creed or gender and acknowledge their immense contribution to our Society or nation.”
“I sincerely would like to apologize to every single person who has been unintentionally hurt by the usage of the word and sincerely regret for the same,” she added.
Despite her public apology and revelation of ignorance, Dalit activists like Dilip Mandal, Suraj Yengde continue to haunt and demean her. “You have ugly mind and Botox and kilos of foundation and makeup will not hide your inherent ugliness and grotesqueness. Caste is your bone. How can you be such an obtuse,” tweeted Dilip Mandal with hashtag ArrestMunmumDutta.
You have ugly mind and Botox and kilos of foundation and makeup will not hide your inherent ugliness and grotesqueness. Caste is your bone. How can you be such an obtuse. #ArrestMunmunDutta
— Dilip Mandal (@Profdilipmandal) May 10, 2021
Yengde asked her to prove that she respects Dalits. “Okay, then prove that you respect Dalits,” he replied to her apology.
Okay, then prove that you respect Dalits.
— surajyengde (@surajyengde) May 10, 2021
This is not the first time the SC/ST act is being misused in the name of Dalit activism. Previously, the state of Maharashtra had been rocked with the suicide of its ‘Lady Singham’, Range Forest Officer Dipali Chavan-Mohite, who after being repeatedly sexually harassed by a senior forest officer named Vinod Shivkumar, who in turn, threatened to frame her under the SC/ST Act, took the extreme step.
28-year-old female Range Forest Officer posted in the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MRT) in Amravati, Maharashtra, Dipali Chavan-Mohite shot herself to death at her official quarters. A purported suicide note that she left behind revealed that she allegedly faced sexual harassment and torture at the hands of an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Vinod Shivkumar.
The misuse of the SC/ST act is prevalent throughout the country and this is the reason that the Supreme Court struck down some of its clauses but the Union government again introduced and passed a new bill in parliament in order to ensure that those clauses remain.
No one is arguing that there is no caste oppression in the society but any law should not have provisions that can be used against the common people by a certain community. The repeated misuse of the SC/ST act shows that it needs to be amended.