On Monday, a popular culinary YouTube channel named Bong Eats came out in support of Umar Khalid after he was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on charges of ‘conspiracy’ during Delhi Anti-Hindu riots.
In stark contrast to the usual content, the channel posted a smiling picture of Umar Khalid along with an extract of a revolutionary poem, ‘Karar oi Louho Kopat (Prison doors of steel).’
“Gajnar bajna baja! Ke Malik? Ke Raja? Ke dai saja mukto sadhin satya ke re?,” the tweet read. The loose translation goes as, “Beat the drums in jubilation. Who is the master? Who is the king? Who can punish free, independent voice of truth?” The song was originally written by celebrated Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam when he was held up in prison during the Indian Independence movement.
Bong Eats dedicated the song to Umar Khalid, suggesting that none can tame the ‘independence’ of the alleged conspirator of Delhi riots. The channel, managed by Saptarshi Chakraborty and Insiya Poonawala, had been operating since 2016 and uploads recipes of Bengali cuisine.
Bong Bites has an audience base of over 1 million people
In their own words, “At Bong Eats we document the food of Calcutta. We cook traditional Bengali recipes prepared in home kitchens, as well as some of the most beloved dishes found in the myriad streets, cabins, and restaurants in the city…With this project, Bong Eats, we hope to demystify such preparations and make them accessible to just about anyone interested in cooking and eating.
The channel had recently crossed 1 million subscribers on Youtube.
1 million. Thank you for standing by us through good times and bad. চোদ্দটা ইডেন গার্ডেন্স স্টেডিয়াম লাগবে এতো লোক বসাতে। ভাবা যায়? অনেক অনেক ভালোবাসা রইলো। pic.twitter.com/6cRRseIxOC— Bong Eats (@bongeats) August 13, 2020
Bong Eats refuses to do course-correction
However, fans of the culinary channel were upset after Bong Eats came out in support of Umar Khalid. When a Twitter user (@coolfunnytshirt) urged to not exploit the audience of the channel with their revolutionary political ideology, Bong Eats asked him to unfollow instead of doing course-correction.
Our account, our rules. না পোষালে দেখো না।— Bong Eats (@bongeats) September 14, 2020
“Hello comrade, whoever is running this account , do all this ‘revolutionary’ activities from your personal account. What are you guys teaching here? How to cook Shaheen Bagh biryani?” the Twitter user asked. “Our account our rules. Na poshala dekho na (If you don’t like, then don’t watch)”, the channel said in a reply to the tweet.
The role of Umar Khalid in Delhi riots
Umar Khalid, along with several other rabble-rousers such as Jamia media coordinator Safoora Zargar, RJD’s youth wing president Meeran Haider, Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal and several others have been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly instigating the violence that swept over large swathes of the northeast Delhi in February earlier this year.
The Delhi Police Crime Branch in its FIR dated 6th March 2020 stated that the anti-Hindu riots that took place in North East Delhi between 24-26 February during the visit of US President Donald Trump were preplanned. The FIR copy stated that the anti-Hindu riots conspiracy was hatched by ex-JNU student Umar Khalid and his associates who are linked with two groups. As part of the conspiracy, Umar Khalid gave provocative speeches at two different locations and appealed to people to take to streets during the visit of US President Donald Trump so that the propaganda that minorities are oppressed in India can be internationalized.