Kunal Kamra Video: NCPCR Summons Twitter Official for Not Filing 'Action Taken' Report

In a video of a boy singing to PM Modi in Germany, the comedian had replaced the song the boy originally sang with one about price rise.

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New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has summoned Twitter India’s communications director over failure to submit an ‘action taken’ report against comedian Kunal Kamra.

NCPCR, under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is India’s apex child rights body.

It has accused Kamra of posting a “doctored” video of a boy singing a patriotic song for Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Germany visit earlier this month.

Kamra had shared a video that appeared to show Modi’s interaction in Germany with a child. The video had been shared by multiple news outlets. Kamra’s version replaced the song that the boy sang, ‘Janmabhoomi Bharat‘, with “Mehengayi daayan khaaye jaat hain“, which PTI has described as a Bollywood song about price rise.

Kamra is a noted critic of the Modi government and has earlier suffered rightwing Twitter’s attacks. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, after he was accused of contempt of court for being critical over a judgment, he had noted, “Should powerful people and institutions continue to show an inability to tolerate rebuke or criticism, we would be reduced to a country of incarcerated artists and flourishing lapdogs.”

Immediately after tweeting this video, several rightwing Twitter participants called on the NCPCR to act against him.

A man claiming to be the boy’s father tweeted to Kamra saying that the seven-year-old wished to sing a song for his “beloved Motherland.”

“Though he is still very young but certainly he loves his country more than you Mr. Kamra or Kachra watever u are. Keep the poor boy out of your filthy politics & try to work on your poor jokes,” the user said.

Initially, Kamra noted that the video had been made public by a news site and added that the man’s son should listen to songs “from people of his country also.”

Later, Kamra responded to the father’s tweet by quote-tweeting it and saying:

“Meeting the PM & getting their attention could really help boast the moral of a child & I should have been empathetic towards that emotion of a father. I stand corrected. My apologies.”

He also appears to have deleted the video.

On May 5, NCPCR sought action against Kamra for tweeting this video.

“A letter in this regard was sent to your good offices dated 05.05.2022 calling for an ATR (action taken report) in the instant complaint within 7 days or receipt of the letter…However, no such ATR has been yet received by the Commission,” the NCPCR said in the letter sent to Twitter on Tuesday.

Kamra reacted to an ANI update on this news by tagging Elon Musk and “warning” him that his staff too will be “frivolously summoned” by central agencies “executing the will of their political masters.”

This is not the first time that the NCPCR has been accused of acting on behalf of the Narendra Modi government’s interests.

The body has been accused of leading a witch-hunt against its critics, especially New Delhi-based Centre of Equity Studies head Harsh Mander. In June 2021, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), in an affidavit submitted to the Delhi high court, contradicted a majority of the incriminating claims made by the NCPCR about two childcare homes established by Mander’s organisation.

The inspections conducted by the NCPCR were conducted at a time when the Centre was battling massive anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act agitations across the country. Mander was one of the foremost critics of the controversial law.

In 2020, the NCPCR wrote to the Madhya Pradesh government to take action against the district magistrate of Sagar for failing to provide information it had sought about a case of ‘religious conversion’ at a children’s hostel run by a Christian organisation. However, reports on this appeared only on rightwing online news sites.

Reports have also noted cases where the NCPCR has chosen not to intervene, like one in June 2015, in which an investigative report in Outlook magazine revealed that 31 tribal girls from five districts of Assam were allegedly trafficked by three RSS-affiliated organisations to Punjab and Gujarat. The state commission for protection of child rights had written to NCPCR to take action on the matter.

In 2022, NCPCR also issued a notice to Lancet for claiming in a report that more than 19 lakh children in India lost at least a parent during the pandemic. According to NCPCR, 10,000 children lost their parents due to COVID-19 and other reasons, while over 140,000 children lost a single parent, the New Indian Express had reported then.