On 2 November, a so-called US based “humour” website 'National Report' published an article about an annual rape festival celebrated in the northeastern state of Assam in India.
The article described how every unmarried girl between 7 to 16 years will have the chance to flee to safety or get raped.
What made matters worse was that the article even created a head of the festival called 'Madhuban Ahluwalia', who claimed that the festival has been held in Assam for thousands of years.
The article that was meant to be satirical, contained no satirical elements. It's vulgar and salacious. It also quoted a festival participant who said he had been training all year for the event by raping his sister and her friends every day.
Read one of the quotes which the article claims to have been said by one 23-year-old Harikrishna Majumdar: “I’m going to get the most rapes this year. I’ve been practicing raping my sister and her friends every day. I will be rape superstar number one! I will get the Baalkrishan prize this year for sure!”theepochtimes.com
The website also published a picture which was captioned as last year’s rape festival in Assam. However, the picture is actually from 'Kumbh Mela', a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river.
As if this was not enough, the article also mentions that the man who rapes the most will be awarded The Baalkrishan trophy. The story also provides a phone number to be contacted for more details.
“For more information on the festival or if you would like to participate, please call the 24-hour Assam Rape Festival hotline at (785) 273-0325“—the piece said.firstpost.com
Not surprisingly, the article quickly went viral on social media and netizens from all over the globe slammed Assam for organising such a festival.
The article got over 100,000 Facebook shares on Facebook and more than 2,000 tweets. The website does not mention that it was a parody, and given the wide news coverage of horrific rapes in India, many readers took the article as an authentic news report.buzzfeed.com
Emery, who correctly calls the article “fictitious”, has actually failed to judge the enormity of the negative impact that it is having on India as a nation and Assam in particular. He would surely agree that it isn’t a simple satire anymore if he goes through feedback on the piece.inquisitr.com
Comments below the article like—”May God help this fallen nation!This is disgusting!!” (Vee), “this is really horrible … raping 7-16 year old girls. aren’t men suppose to protect us and not treat children like they are animals or whatever. something is wrong in India I’m hurt and disgusted” (Mo)—clearly suggest that it is no longer fun and the damage is already been done.ibtimes.co.uk
The link, which is now flying all over the place on Facebook and other social media sites, also evoked angry response slamming the article.
“This is bizarre and stupid.. if it is a satire, it should be mentioned and if not the publication should be sued by both the government of India and the Assam government for defamation. Unpardonable,” said Ron from New Delhi.firstpost.com
"Every year at some point the idiotic rape festival "satire"(if you can call it that) goes viral. Why won't it die already?!" wrote another New Delhi resident Dhruv Arora on his Facebook wall.facebook.com
The article also includes a link to GiveIndia.org, a Mumbai-based nonprofit, which connects donors to around 200 charities working in India on issues including child welfare and women’s empowerment.
However, Jai Bhujwala, head of online and retail giving at Give India, said the charity was in no way connected to the website or the piece and had requested the author to remove it from the Internet.ibtimes.co.uk
“We support women’s causes but this is not the right way that we would like to present it,” Mr. Bhujwala told India Real Time.wsj.com
At the end, the piece claims that India “is second in reported rapes in the world only behind the United States, though critics are quick to point out that is only because most rapes in India go unreported.” It then asks “Want to help women in India? Then do something! Giveindia.org gives 90-95% of the money that you donate directly to the cause of helping women in India.”ibtimes.co.uk
Give India has received a number of comments about the piece from donors asking about the piece, Mr. Bhujwala added. “We are trying to reassure then that this is not a form of fundraising that we would want to endorse and would not want it to be associated with what Give India is trying to do.”wsj.com
The state police has already taken note of the matter. On 14 November, Assam’s criminal investigation department registered a suo motu case against the website for posting the defamatory article.
“We have got to know about the piece on NationalReport.net. The Criminal Investigation Department has already started an enquiry. We are looking to locate the source and the veracity of the website. Further action will depend on the report of the initial investigation,” Assam Police, Director General, Jayanta Narayan Choudhury.wsj.com
“The fraudulent and extremely unethical article about the completely fictitious festival is an act of serious disrespect and total disregard shown towards the humble and unsuspecting people of Assam,” said Barnali Saikia Bora, officer on special duty.inquisitr.com
“The details in the article are gruesome to the point of being demonic and the writer of such a piece of pure evil is not fit for human society.” Officials said the confusion came because the site was not labeled as satire.ibtimes.co.uk
“There was no disclaimer saying the article is a spoof. People mistook it for fact,” said Simanta Sharma, president, Assam Society Of Bangalore (ASOB). Petitioners have sought an apology from website, while Indian officials are looking into possible defamation charges.firstpost.com
Last year, there was another article circulating all over social media, claiming to be about 'Punjab Rape Festival' using the almost same text and same image.