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Through most of May, singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya appeared to have been on a well-documented trip spanning Hamburg, Prague, Rotterdam and Zurich, sharing with fans on Facebook pictures of him next to monuments and flashy cars. During this pleasurable European sojourn, he also found time to send tweets to some people in India that were disrespectful enough to get his account suspended by Twitter. Bhattacharya was seemingly upset by Jawaharlal Nehru University student-leader Shehla Rashid sharing articles, which had appeared in Hindustan Times and The Indian Express, about the involvement of some BJP men in a sex racket and a child trafficking case. Bhattacharya quoted her tweet and wrote, “There is rumour she took money in advance for 2 hrs and didn’t satisfy the client… big racket.” This insinuation was shared widely, with people making an appeal to report him to Twitter. Unfazed, the singer continued tweeting angrily at those in support of Rashid. The handle @abhijeetsinger now reads “account suspended”. Twitter has clear rules against abuse. “In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behaviour that crosses the line into abuse, including behaviour that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.” Bhattacharya did not respond to calls or messages seeking comment. Yet, hours after this rap on the knuckles, a hashtag, #IStandWithAbhijeet, appeared and people tweeting with it said “nationalists” were being targeted unfairly. The singer blames writer “Arundhati Roy and JNU group”, whom he dubs “anti-Indian” for the action. Fellow artiste Sonu Nigam, too, quit Twitter in solidarity. But Bhattacharya is no first-time offender. That sympathetic hashtag surfaced in 2016 too, when he wrote hateful tweets to journalist Swati Chaturvedi. Chaturvedi had questioned his claim that the murder of young Infosys engineer S Swathi was connected to an unfounded practice called ‘love jihad’, in which Muslim men purportedly entice Hindu women in order to convert them. She suggested his facts were wrong and he was spreading misinformation driven by jealousy of more-successful Pakistani singers. From Bhattacharya’s response to this, the only printable part is “Besharam budhiya” (shameless hag). It ended with him being arrested by Mumbai Police and then let out on bail. The singer wears his politics on his sleeve.
An army of online supporters re-tweets his posts, which are characterised by rude language often aimed at women. He had over a million followers on Twitter, and two million people still follow him on Facebook.Some reckon his bitterness results from wanting to stay relevant despite a waning career. His Bollywood fame, which rose in the 1990s with cheerful songs such as “Badi Mushkil Hai” and “Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaoon”, had diminished in the 2000s. For a while, he was a judge on the reality show Indian Idol. He now records mainly for Bengali films, and performs in stage shows around the world. Bhattacharya is not known to be struggling financially, though. He is said to have interests in real estate. He is also the organiser of one of the most prominent Durga Pujas at Lokhandwala in Mumbai. He and his wife have two sons. He has picked several fights in the fraternity before. He snubbed Aamir Khan for saying there was intolerance in India and was miffed with A R Rahman for making him wait. He also declared he would never sing for Shah Rukh Khan again, although it remains unclear if he was ever recently asked to.