The controversy over Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death suicide is being prolonged with both Bihar and Maharashtra state government’s coming in a tussle, and the Central Government ordering for a CBI probe.
But it was after allegations of Rhea Chakraborty using black magic against Sushant Singh Rajput came into light, entire social media was flooded with posts targeting Bengali women. Since Rhea Chakraborty is a Bengali, stereotypical posts against Bengali women are doing rounds with trolls labelling Bengali women as “gold-diggers”, “manipulative”, “dominating”, “vishkanya” (poisonous daughter), who “use their husbands for ATM”, who know “how to call ghosts” and “ruin” men’s careers.
Several activists and actors have reported this online abuse of Bengali women including Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan. The cyber cell of Kolkata Police is probing the matter.
What perpetuates this sexist racial thought?
Across many states in India Bengali women are labelled as dians (witches) similar to a long-haired, red-lipped, irresistibly bold enchantress who turns everyone into puppets of her will. However, roots of origination of these thoughts is what even rationals are trying to find.
Guwahati-based academic Gopa Majumdar says, “Men often tend to listen to someone they respect and consider to be better than them. Bengali women perhaps have that effect on men and everyone else because of their hard-earned achievements compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country.”
But it is, she adds, the hyper-sexualised image of Bengali women created in popular culture — literature and cinema, especially Bollywood — that has also added to the narrative. “After all, Indians are famous for equating the inexplicable with the paranormal. So the same goes for natural charm.”
Majumdar strongly believes that the Manjulikas (Bhool Bhulaiyaa) and Bulbbuls (Bulbbul, Netflix), even if unwittingly, have also contributed in perpetuating this to a certain extent.
Another message sent to Chandrani Chakraborty read, “Bengali men are coward they do not keep women in correct path as we do, that is why bengali women get out of their hands. You bengali women are real witches as depicted in Bulbul. You will not come to scare in night? Anyway, you’re a very beautiful witch.”
Black Magic is only confined to Bengal?
Indians are well aware of ‘Bengali babas’ — self-proclaimed healers known for selling what they call ‘medication’ for gastrological problems, ‘Bengali baba ka churan’ (digestive powders). A majority of them who claim to know black magic are not even Bengalis.
Indian mythology provides proof of Tantric practices associated with black magic. Such practices were held at Shakti Peethas (major pilgrimage sites) in Bengal and Assam. But nowhere has such practices been confined to the state. Tantric practices have deep roots across many states and religions in India, and blaming only one region for its propagation is nowhere sensical.
How do you justify the ongoing online abuse of Bengali women?
The unfortunate demise of Sushant Singh Rajput has left the whole nation in shock with talks on how to handle depression becoming a part of every forum across the world. But what makes the incident more untoward is it’s politicisation and irresistible trolls for Bengali women.
An FIR has been filed against Rhea Chakraborty Sushant’s family. Interestingly social media has already pronounced Rhea guilty even before the allegations are proven in the court of law. We are not in favour of any person, but we refrain from mocking at a person’s death and using it as a tool to target others. Social media is the largest connecting platform in current date, but it is also the biggest platform that has claimed many lives. Think before you type over social media.