Fauja Singh parody invites ire on social networking sites

The producer of a satirical Internet TV show has been receiving death threats by the dozen and his phone has been ringing off the hook, after he allegedly poked fun at 101-year-old British marathoner Fauja Singh.

Running machine: Born on April 1, 1911, Fauja Singh is a British centenarian marathon runner of Punjabi Sikh origin. He is a world record holder in his age bracket. File pic

Abhigyan Jha — producer of the satirical Internet TV show Jay Hind had uploaded an online segment of his show in December 2011, but strangely he has been receiving threatening calls from members of some Sikh organisations since the past two days.

The online segment of his show featured a parody on Fauja Singh and it did not create any sort of controversy anytime last year, until now.

The clip was apparently downloaded from YouTube by a forum named Sikhchannel, which re-edited the footage, added comments and re-uploaded it on July 30, 2012.

All of a sudden, it has stirred up a row on popular news channels and has brought in abusive comments on popular social networking sites. Insisting that the segment was in no way meant to malign the Sikh community, Jha said, “The video was a parody on Fauja Singh, yes, but it was routine comedy. We’ve done similar things with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan.”

He added that the underlying message has obviously been lost on those who took offence. “Fauja comes across as an intelligent person with a cheeky sense of humour. So our intent was to highlight the perpetrators who have troubled the community in the past,” Jha said.

He added that his company has been around for almost two years and has never ever cracked a Sardar joke.

“Santa Banta quips are not for us. How many Indian comedy portals can claim that? Sumeet Raghavan and Rajeev Nigam, who are associated with the show, have been victims of violent threats as well. As a result they have resorted to police protection,” he said.

The trigger
In the video, Fauja Singh is shown as a Canadian marathon runner, when in reality he’s British. On being asked since when he took to running, Fauja replies 1984, a clear reference to the Sikh riots. He also takes a dig at the US by making a sly comment on the racial attacks against Sikhs post-9/11. Even the visa problem faced by the minorities when it comes to emigration is highlighted. There are many such seemingly ambiguous statements in the segment. After the steady flow of hate mails and comments, the video has been removed from public viewing.¬†

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