New Delhi: Twitters, Facebooks, Zorpias are the bridges between celebrities and their fans, but sometimes this bridge becomes a tool to invade the privacy of these celebs by people who don't know them personally. Recent controversy surrounding South Indian singer and entrepreneur Chinmayi Sripada is an apt example of this.
Apparently, the singer became the point of wrath on internet due to her views on the Tamil fisherman who were attacked by the Sri Lankan navy. She had tweeted on January 26, 2012, "Also wishing today that our fishermen come back home safe. If SL is denying it, who is killing them?"
The magnitude of the event can be imagined from the fact that Chinmayi had to seek help from the police to fight back with the abusers on internet. The police also arrested two people in the connection with the case who were becoming something more than being vocal against the well known singer and voice over artist. Chinmayi had provided six Twitter handles to the police. One of the arrested people is a teacher of fashion technology while the other is a government employee.
Is singer Chinmayi Sripada a victim of the male dominated Indian society or her behaviour was irresponsible?
This controversy also gives birth to a very important question which is not related to just Chinmayi but to all the women who feel free and unrestricted on internet. The cyber world was considered safer than roads, pubs and other places where women are not seen in ‘so called’ enticing clothes, but this incident indicates the amount of work to be done to bring the ‘at par’ status for both the genders.
There are women such as Sherlyn Chopra and Poonam Pandey who feel free to post and write whatever they feel like but that is just one part of the truth. Chinmayi and her right to free speech is something else, but her safety should be the first concern. If the virtual world is also going to be the replica of the real world, then the idea of women empowerment is going to take some more years to take shape on the ground level.
One can easily adopt a new and funny name on internet and then use it to harass others but Chinmayi’s case points to a bigger picture where the independence of the singer seems to be more disturbing to the people against her than her statement. The discussion on the use of the words such as ‘rape’, ‘assault’ can take the discussion to another level which might look one sided and can take one’s attention away from the actual event.
Initially, Chinmayi tried the usual way of blocking the offenders, she writes on her blog 'Facing abuse and a backlash of rumours', dated October 26, 2012, “After a point I started blocking them. It didn't end there. New people would jump in and Rajan leaks would either be retweeted in which I will be tagged or I will be tagged in tweets they had sent to Rajanleaks. And I was known as the famous singer who blocked anyone who tweeted in Tamil. This became a campaign: "Chinmayi is against Tamilians on Twitter". The numbers began increasing and was predominantly instigated. Otherwise I don't see why people would generally join together for a 'cause (!)' like this. Manthiramoorthy alias @thalapathy_8787 also wrote a huge blog about me which ended with "I will marry a better figure than you". Apparently he wants to be directing films and had approached my mom through someone stating he would like to get married to me. Mom refused.”
Chinmayi's blog suggests that this has been happening since January, "Beginning January 2011 somehow I had been at the receiving end of a lot of abusive tweets from people, who predominantly tweeted in the Tamil language. Initially I ignored them. In some instances I thought I could tell them not to indulge in derogatory language and believed they would understand. Here I made my first mistake. I hadn't begun to know the behaviour of some people on Twitter yet."
Reportedly, she had complained to the police that some people have threatened to kill and rape her. However, in her blog, Chinmayi seems to be ready for further tussles on internet and elsewhere. She writes, "Also Rajans and Saravana Kumars are entitled to say whatever they want because they have the Right to Speech."
She added, "As of today (I started saying at the end of it all, and realized it ain't over yet), I have realized one thing. I can just sit in one place, not say a thing. But even then I could be in the eye of a new storm. I also do wish the underlying motive behind all this would be brought to the fore. Why would random people make up stories like this?"
Chinmayi has a good presence on Twitter with more than 10,6000 followers and she has continuously tweeted about the issue which can affect the views of many of her followers. Though, she has been accused of deleting her tweets and changing her stance, still it seems the internet world is not completely ready to accept the idea of free speech from a 'successful' woman.