Army called in to control protests over insult to Indian Idol
An RJ of a FM (Red FM 93.5) radio channel from Delhi apparently referred to Prashant Tamang, this year’s Indian Idol, as a ‘gurkha’ and this news site reports that Prashant’s success was referred to as “Chowkidar to Indian Idol” a day after Prashant was crowned Indian Idol. Fans and supporters have been protesting for some time now….but now the protests have resulted in a serious law and order situation in Siliguri, even though the radio channel has apologized for the comments.
The insensitivity by the RJ is not surprising. Racist remarks about people from the hills are not uncommon…but this particular instance was worse because it was aired over a radio channel. I heard on television that the West Bengal Chief Minister has decided to sue the channel…
Prashant himself has appealed for calm. I am sure that he never imagined that the RJ’s remark, which he has admitted was “unfortunate” was going to result in so much mayhem! Its become so bad that the clash is not just between the police and the protesting fans, but between the locals and the fans as well. Apparently it all started when a procession of about 2000 fans blocked the road and refused to let an ambulance pass through, which infuriated the local people. Well, when there are 2000 people, all very upset about something marching to the courts to demand action, anything can happen! Well, now, curfew has been imposed and the Army has been called in!
But why so much anger?
This anger over an insult to Prashant might seem an overreaction for some, but I think people have underestimated Prashant’s popularity. It is clear that Prashant has become a youth icon in the north-east. In fact even earlier, during the actual voting, there was some disturbance when Prashant’s fans found it difficult to send SMS votes. But even if Prashant is popular why so much rage? Well, I think Prashant isn’t just another popular celebrity. For one thing he has been on national television constantly in recent weeks, and his fame has been quick and giddying, not just for him, but for his fans as well.
Another reason for the strong response to the racist comment by the veejay could be that there already exists a deep resentment amongst the hill people about the racism they encounter everyday. Now that a radio channel has insulted one of their own, and that too a man who has become the Indian Idol by the dint of his own merit is too much for them to take. It is almost as if it is the last straw!
I think it’s disgusting that in India we have to refer to people’s imagined background (Prashant is a cop, not a chowkidar!!) while talking about them…it’s about time we became more mature and saw an individual for what he actually is, without the stereotypical attitudes we associate with each community.
(Pictures of Siliguri and Prashant linked to the originals)