KATHMANDU: Comedian Pranesh Gautam has been sent to judicial custody at the Teku-based Metropolitan Crime Division for an additional day following his hearing at Kathmandu District Court yesterday.
On June 10, a hearing on the ‘Meme Nepal’ case was held at the court following the detention of Gautam on Friday, based on a complaint filed by filmmaker Milan Chamling Rai, aka Milan Chams, for what he calls a “cybercrime”.
Gautam, a member of Meme Nepal, was taken into police custody for a video review of filmmaker Cham’s new movie “Bir Bikram 2”.
Here’s the link to the video.
After the video review started circulating on social media, Chams filed a case against Gautam and Meme Nepal saying their review defamed his movie and the artists involved in it.
A national daily (The Kathmandu Post) on June 7, had reported about Pranesh Gautam’s detention, in which Chams was quoted as saying that he was aware of the police acting on his complaint, the grounds for which ranged from the foul language, defamation, and persuading people against the film.
Meanwhile, a lot of people have taken to social media as they see this act as a violation of and an attack on freedom of expression.
Dear all, it's high time to start #ReleasePraneshGautam. Remember, if you don't speak at the right time, you might be barred to speak for the rest of your lives. #ReleasePraneshGautam https://t.co/M9DUyP0wFw
— Bishal Silwal (@silwanen) June 11, 2019
I have never liked 'Meme Nepal' due to their frequent sexist, racist and homophobic contents but the reason behind arrest of Pranesh Gautam is beyond shocking!!
— Swikriti Kattel (@KattelSwikriti) June 11, 2019
Pranesh is definitely going through a lot mentally.
On Monday, he was screaming and outraging. That is the reason why meme nepal agreed to the RIDICULOUS demand of deleting meme nepal.
He was crying and shivering later. When I told him “It’ll be okay” he replied “i doubt it man”
— Aayush Shrestha (@aayush_who) June 11, 2019
Fellow comedian Aayush Shrestha, in a conversation with THT Online, shared that Gautam is presently very stressed out and quite unstable. “I met him yesterday. He was shivering and crying. After talking to me he calmed down a little. But he is going through a lot and so is his family. There has been no physical torture, but he is being asked to entertain other inmates there.”
Stating that Gautam’s case was clear and out there, and not a case to be extended, he said, “It is being carried out with the intention of troubling the other person.” He further informed that the court had sent Gautam to judicial custody for one day while they had expected he would be released today. Instead, he was taken to a government lawyer today who extended the custody for yet another day.
Shrestha further stated that the film industry was showing their power to the online entertainment media. Shrestha believes that even the police were not listening to their defence and were acting in support of the people backing the arrest.
Interestingly, people from the Nepali film industry have been mum on this whole issue. When asked about this, Shrestha said well-known persons from the film fraternity were in support of Chams allegations and against Gautam. However, he shared that Gautam had received support from the media and mediapersons.
This, however, is not the first time that the Nepali film industry has reacted in such a fashion corresponding to the criticisms that some films receive from the audience and the media. Many producers and actors have slammed people in the past for disagreeing to and pointing out flaws in connection to their movies.
Metropolitan Crime Division, on the other hand, said that Gautam remains in their custody but was reluctant to comment further on the extension of his judicial custody.
“He is in custody but we are not aware of the intricacies of his custody extension and other legalities,” Spokesperson at the Metropolitan Crime Division, Superintendent of Police (SP) Kedar Dhakal said.