A court in Rajasthan sentenced actress Payal Rohatgi to jail till 24 December for making and sharing “objectionable” videos against the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his father Motilal Nehru. Payal was recently arrested by the Bundi police from Ahmedabad in this case.
After the arrest, Payal and her partner Sangram Singh took to Twitter to seek help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Home Ministry. However, they have not received any help in this regard.
The bail plea of Payal Rohatgi was rejected by the court. She will now remain in custody till 24 December.
The news of the arrest of Payal had spread like wildfire on Twitter after she told everyone about her arrest on Twitter. She tweeted, “I am arrested by Rajasthan Police for making a video on Motilal Nehru, which I made from taking (sic) information from Google. Freedom of Speech is a joke.”
Her partner Sangram Singh tweeted, tagging the prime minister, saying, “This is freedom of speech in Congress ruling (sic) state? Sir, please have a look this matter (sic).”
Social worker and Youth Congress leader Charmesh Sharma had filed a complaint against Payal Rohatgi. Sharma has alleged that such things have been written in the post regarding the death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri that may affect India’s international relations.
Payal Rohatgi is an Indian actress and reality TV performer who has appeared in Bollywood films, too. She was a contestant in the reality show Bigg Boss in 2008. Her remarks on social media have led to police complaints against her on multiple occasions.
Not every tweet that landed Payal in trouble could be brushed off as ‘fake news’, much as the media safely brands them as “controversial”. The following are some of the occasions when she landed in trouble.
- Payal was most recently accused of “communalising” (sic) the incident of rape and murder of the Hyderabad veterinarian
- Her Twitter handle was suspended earlier this year until Amruta Fadnavis, the wife of then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, intervened
- She had interpreted the Kerala floods as “wrath of God” for the act of some members of the State unit of the Congress of slaughtering cows
- She questioned the extent of liberty Islam allows women after Zaira Wasim announced she was quitting films; while many would vouch for this, social mediums mostly do not allow branding any community or religion and a popular Twitter handle must know where to draw the line or express one’s views wisely
- She called 18th-century reformist Raja Rammohun Roy a traitor
- In the same vein, instead of saying the rate of incidents of Sati in that era was blown out of proportion by the British, she ended up glorifying the burning of a woman in in the pyre of her dead husband
- Payal had claimed Maratha king Shivaji was a Shudra
- In the latest howler, Payal Rohatgi had claimed that Motilal Nehru had five wives and that Jawaharlal Nehru was not among Motilal’s legitimate children
But then, some of the claims above, made by the actress, are indeed very popular in right-wing circles of social media. They are passed on with so much belief and conviction via WhatsApp that, sometimes, elderly people buy the theories only to meet with abject embarrassment moments later.