On May 9, OpIndia published a report on how a few organizations and individuals might be breaking FCRA laws under the pretext of collecting funds for Covid-19 relief. Under the report, we had included a video of Yuvraj Pokharna, who is an activist and media consultant. In his video, he raised some serious questions about Hemkunt Foundation. This organization claims to be working extensively to provide oxygen and other relief material to the Covid-19 patients in and around Delhi.
The organization recently announced that they are expanding their ventures to other states, and for that, they have asked for donations from people. As they are not FCRA registered, collecting foreign funds by routing them via another organization is not legal as per FCRA law. However, platforms like Ketto and DonateKart are allowing such fundraisers, which raises the question of their authenticity as well.
Anyway, the question here is not if Hemkunt Foundation is collecting funds legally or not. The question here is the amount of hate, trolling and threats Yuvraj is facing because of some valid questions. Yuvraj and everyone who has donated to any organization has the right to question about the usage of funds. Also, these organizations must follow the regulations set by the government of India to ensure there is no case of money laundering or misuse of funds in any way. However, what Yuvraj has been facing since he uploaded the video is horrifying.
The abuses and death threats
OpIndia had a detailed conversation with Yuvraj about the hate he has been getting since the video was published. “I wonder if asking valid questions was a mistake?” said Yuvraj. He revealed how a whole army of trolls and abusers are after him since the video was published. He shared some screenshots with us, so we decided to pay a visit to the video again and scroll through the comments on the Instagram video.
Yuvraj’s video on Hemkunt Foundation has received over six lakh views so far, and there are over 700 comments. While some praised him for his courage, here are some of the comments that are open abuses and threats directed to him.
Yuvraj also shared some screenshots in which there were endless abuses and threats.
The trolls crossed the limit when they leaked his number online. Yuvraj said that being a professional, it was not hard to find his number online, and the abusers took advantage of it. As soon as his number was shared on social media, he started to get threatening messages and calls, said Yuvraj. One Instagram user, batman_msm_005 was seen commenting on different IDs, telling them Yuvraj’s number and urging them to call him.
“I will come and meet you at your place” – the threatening video message
Yuvraj said it was not limited to just abuses. Several comments were a direct threat against him. One person who stood out with his threatening videos and messages is named Viky Thomas. Yuvraj told us that there was a video of him in which he was allegedly openly threatening him, but the video was later deleted.
Thomas then made other videos and posts in which he kept on abusing Yuvraj without taking his name directly. Thomas has been posing as a Sikh and claims he has faith in the Sikh religion. He was also present at the farmer protest sites and at Red Fort on January 26 when the tractor rally organized by alleged farmers turned violent. We found a few photographs of him at these sites on his Facebook account.
In the recent video targeting Yuvraj, Thomas repeatedly called him a ‘neech aadmi’. Thomas, on several occasions, threatened him without taking his name that he will come and meet at his house very soon. He also showed Yuvraj’s video on his Facebook live.
He said, “Not all people are bad in a particular religion, but some people, some despicable (neech) and bad (gande) people ruin it, just like him,” and then he played the video. He further called him “gande jaat ke keede”, which means insects of ‘disgusting’ caste, and threatened that he would beat him. He then tried to intimate him with his huge size.
Thomas then boasted that he receives calls from foreign countries. It is unclear how it makes someone special, but he seems to think it does. He further showed his passport and again tried to show it as if travelling to other countries makes him important. He then raised question over the Statue of Unity and asked why Rs.3000 crore were spent on it. Interestingly, when the statue was built, there was no sign of pandemic, and since the statue was built, the tourism in the region had increased exponentially before the lockdown last year.
Thomas claimed that the number of rapes is increasing in the country because of “gande neech log” like Yuvraj. How questioning a fundraiser made him an alleged ‘rapist’ is unclear, though. He asked Yuvraj to keep his phone shut and sit at his home or do “Sewa” at Masjid, Gurudwara or Mandir.
He further said, “I do Guru’s Sewa. If insects like you come in between me and sewa, I know how to clean them,” which was an open threat to Yuvraj’s life. He further added that he deleted the previous video at someone’s request. He then showed his photograph with Morari Bapu to assert his claims.
Thomas’s possible links with Congress
Yuvraj shared photographs of Thomas with Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. The images were visibly old, but they have relevance as it shows there is a possibility that he has strong connections in Congress Party. In another video, Thomas had though claimed he has met many other leaders and actors and again tried to mint his meeting with Morari Bapu in that video.
There are countless threat messages in Yuvraj’s DMs and many comments on his posts on social media abusing him relentlessly. A question that should make everyone wonder why it is hard to raise valid questions against NGOs in India? Why followers answer, abuse and threaten on behalf of them, and they do not utter a word explaining their side of the story?
What was the need of seeking foreign funding without FCRA approval? Why did they not seek approval from the government to accept foreign funding in the first place? Hemkunt Foundation must come forward and explain its stand on this issue.