A recent rash of grisly incidents of gang rape in India — including the jarring case of two young girls who were later found hanging from a tree — has sparked backlash against the country's politicians on Twitter.
The #WakeUpAkhilesh hashtag quickly became a vehicle for public anger over the handling of several recent gang rape cases by Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Thousands of people in India targeted Yadav virtually Monday, complaining that his government has done little to address the problem in the state's deeply poor rural areas, where rape and violence against women often go unreported and unpunished. Uttar Pradesh is a vast state, with a population roughly the same as Brazil's.
There have been at least two other high-profile rape cases that have rocked Uttar Pradesh, apart from the case of the two young girls. A woman was found dead in Bareilly after being gang raped and forced to drink acid, according to the Hindustan Times, and in Etawah, when a rape victim's mother tried to report her daughter's rape, she was allegedly beaten and publicly stripped by the alleged rapists.
Adding to the fury are comments from Yadav's father, Indian politician Mulayam Singh Yadav, who said in April that gang rapes were "mistakes."
"Boys will be boys," he said. "They commit mistakes."
In many of the comments on Twitter, "shame" is a common denominator. The rapes have captured international headlines, and once again brought attention to a problem in India that first became an international scandal after a woman was gang raped on a Delhi bus in 2012 (and later died from her injuries). That case prompted changes in the law, but it hasn't stopped a flood of new incidents from dominating the news.
Akhilesh Yadav, who is the youngest person to ever hold his post, was initially viewed as a potential reformer who could modernize the government.
But on Monday, as protesters gathered outside of his office, they clashed violently with police, who used water cannons to disperse the group.
As of 5:07 p.m. EST the #WakeUpAkhilesh was the top trend on Twitter in India:
This father of a daughter is surprisingly silent when rapes happen regularly in his state. #WakeUpAkhilesh tighten the law and order in UP.
— Kedar Kulkarni (@kedk) June 2, 2014
— Dr Nishi Singh (@nishi_nsingh) June 2, 2014
It is hard being a woman in Uttar Pradesh. Your fight for survival starts from the day you are conceived! #WakeUpAkhilesh
— Rashi Kakkar (@rashi_kakkar) June 2, 2014
— ankur agrawal (@ankur_social) June 2, 2014
#WakeUpAkhilesh prove & promise to people of state that if one more rape and u will resign and suspend the top cops of up
— Dr Amit kr Gupta (@pmrcht) June 2, 2014
#WakeUpAkhilesh Pathetic leaders Mulayam Singh & akhilesh yadav, They r at the top & saving all their mules & brought international shame.
— R@VIK@NT (@Ravi9981) June 2, 2014
It's like he forgot to set his alarm clock & slept through all the violence against women permeating in his state. #WakeUpAkhilesh
— Payal Gurjar (@PayalGurjar) June 2, 2014
— Atal Bihari Vajpaye™ (@Atal_B_Vajpayee) June 2, 2014
— Anand Ashar (@Anand_Ashar83) June 2, 2014
Who is to be blamed, Akhilesh Yadav or the people of UP who have chosen these monsters #WakeUpAkhilesh
— Nitin Gupta (@Nitingupta439) June 2, 2014
#WakeUpAkhilesh Pity you still refuse to believe that your party, your party's culture, your governance and your government is responsible.
— Nrupal Das (@nrupaldas) June 2, 2014
— Vinayak Bahl (@vinayakbahl1) June 2, 2014