Filmmaker Divya Bharathi, who was most recently in the news late last month after Tamil Nadu police arrested her in 2017 for protesting a Dalit’s student death in 2009, is back in the news again, and it just gets sadder and sadder.
She’s no stranger to harassment and threats, especially after her groundbreaking documentary film Kakkoos, which showed the plight of Tamil Nadu’s manual scavengers. Now, it’s being reported that after she posted a video where manual scavengers spoke about the ill-treatment meted out to them by the Dean of Anna University, she’s been receiving literally thousands of threats on her phone.
The video was published on July 21st, and showed sanitation workers alleging that the Dean, Chitra Selvi, harassed them to practise manual scavenging with no protective gear. They also allege that she forced them to work in her homes, despite being employed by the university, not Chitra herself, and that Chitra allowed her husband to sexually harass them.
After she posted this video, posters began to be circulated online saying that Bharathi had insulted the Pallar community, of which Chitra Selvi is a member. Since then, as Bharathi says to The News Minute, she’s received threatening calls from over a thousand numbers, many of which show up on TrueCaller with the names of their parties attached, like “BJP Saravanan or BJP Muralidharan”. She says they call, ask if she is Divya Bharathi, and ask why she made a movie insulting the community. She usually asks them if they’ve actually seen the movie, which most have not. She says many of them tell her that they’ve been paid money to kill her.
Bharathi also says that she “met the Deputy Commissioner of Dindigul five times but no action has been taken. The Collector says that they cannot take action because there are more than a thousand phone numbers.” There are also reports hinting that her arrest late last month for taking part in protests in 2009 may have been a form of revenge for having posted the video about Chitra Selvi’s actions.
Bharathi, being a superstar, refuses to switch off her phone despite all the threats and thousands of calls, because she says it would convey the message to her harassers that she’s scared of them, which she isn’t.