Over May 27, a pro web censorship trend has been trending on Twitter, #CensorWebSeries. The trend seems like a concerted campaign, with scant mentions until yesterday, and has received more than 65,000 mentions today alone. The accounts receiving the most engagement under the trend so far are right wing organisations like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti; Hindu nationalist publishers’ group Sanatan Prabhat, and several individuals with bios along the same lines.
Tweets are mainly focused on Amazon Prime Video’s Paatal Lok, a show that deals with religion and caste in a way that these tweets say are “anti-Hindu”. The Samiti in particular took issues with scenes such as one that depicted a mob of Hindus lynching a Muslim train passenger. Some of the tweets also mention shows like ALT Balaji and ZEE5’s Code M, and Netflix’s Sacred Games and Leila.
Netizens have slammed @AnushkaSharma and the series for showing anti-Hindu culture and glorifying beef-eating in few scenes. People called out the narrative of the show and trended #BanPaatalLok #PaatalLok on Twitter.#BoycottPaatalLok#CensorWebSeries pic.twitter.com/tcWxFMQSVi
— HinduJagrutiOrg (@HinduJagrutiOrg) May 27, 2020
At the time of publishing, the trend seems to have subsided (ranked at #17 among India trends), and none of the government’s ministers, like Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, have yet responded to the tweets they were tagged in.
This campaign comes as the government increases the pressure on streaming platforms to create a quasi-judicial content regulation body. The Digital Content Complaints Committee, the Internet and Mobile Association of India’s proposed solution, has divided the industry. That committee, called “tier-2” among IAMAI members, has the support of only a minority of streaming services. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic started, members were in the process of deliberating on a consensus position. That discussion seems to be on hold, and a media statement published for ZEE5 CEO Tarun Katyal taking over as IAMAI’s Digital Entertainment Committee chairman makes no mention of the issue.