It’s hard to keep track of the atrocities that play out on social media on a daily basis, but the events of Thursday, May 13, were particularly egregious.
At around 10.30-11 am, a livestream began on a YouTube channel called “Liberal Doge”, which has 87,000 subscribers. The owner of the channel posted photographs of Pakistani women, saved without permission from their social media accounts. The channel’s audience then “rated” the women, “auctioned” them off to each other, and posted sexually charged comments on their looks and clothes.
The women in the pictures had dressed up on the occasion of Eid. All the commentary directed towards them was misogynistic and Islamophobic in equal measure. This included comments like “Aaj apni tharak aankho se ladkiyan tadenge” alongside links to the channel’s Patreon, Paypal, Discord, Twitter and Telegram accounts.
When other Twitter users realised what was happening and posted about it, the livestream was made private.
Liberal Doge then posted on their Twitter handle:
By that evening, thanks to the outpouring of anger against the livestream, Liberal Doge’s Twitter handle was removed, while the video was taken down on YouTube.
Unsurprisingly, the handle also received plenty of support, with people tweeting the hashtag #IAmWithLiberalDoge.
But who is Liberal Doge?
In real life, he’s Ritesh Jha, a 23-year-old resident of DLF Phase 2 in Gurugram who is originally from Bihar.
Jha runs several social media accounts under the names “Liberal Doge” as well as “Secular Doge”, whose YouTube channel has 96,000 subscribers. The central character in his YouTube videos is a caricature called Maulana, represented by a dog wearing a skullcap. His videos have a common theme: vilification of Muslims, dog-whistling, and hate speech.
We confirmed that Jha is both “Liberal Doge” and “Secular Doge” using open source intelligence data reports, verified through Jha’s contact number. This also gave us his email address which was linked to his Gravator profile. Jha had also handed out his UPI id – seculardoge@UPI – during his Liberal Doge livestream, which helped us cross-check his name.
Jha’s antics extend beyond Twitter and YouTube. His Telegram channel has multiple posts slandering Muslims. One post, for instance, celebrates the of a Muslim boy being beaten for drinking water at a temple in Ghaziabad. Another post, with a video of a girl being sexually harassed, carried the text that her “Muslim father” raped her.
On Telegram, Jha also runs a group called “Secular Doge IT Cell”, which predominantly spreads pornographic content. Currently, though, the group is busy planning their support for Jha.
“They have entertained us a lot,” a post from a supporter read. “It’s our payback time. Help them as much as you can. Tag the big rightwing handles and urge for the support. At least do this for them. Share it everywhere.” Members were urged to use the hashtag #IAmWithLiberalDoge while tweeting in support.
Some of the tweets they came up with for this “campaign” included:
Then there’s Jha’s Discord group, which is named “Secular Doge ft. Liberal”. Again, Islamophobia is rampant – a poster for Eid with a man demolishing a mosque in the background, multiple threads mocking Muslims using abusive language.
This is just a sample of Jha’s content. His deep-rooted loathing for Muslims shines through across social platforms.
But Jha has been called out for his content before. Last May, a cyber complaint was filed against him for spreading hate and abuse on social media. No action was taken, however.
The person who filed the complaint told Newslaundry, on the condition of anonymity, that he had come across Jha’s posts on Facebook. The person had objected on Facebook about the abuse directed towards Muslims, and soon after received a message from Jha on the platform.
“He asked me why, as a Hindu, I support Muslims, instead I should hate them,” the complainant said. “I didn't get into a verbal spat with him. So, he started talking nicely and said his job is to brainwash secular people. After sometime, he told me that if I know any Muslim girls, he’ll arrange a room for me at my workplace. He said, ‘You can get the Muslim girls, we can rape them together and will make MMS.’ He said I should promote Hindu dharma.”
The complainant took screenshots of the conversation and filed a complaint with the cyber cell division of the Ghaziabad police. He also spoke to an officer at the Indirapuram police station, but there was no progress in the case since.
The complainant also emailed Swati Maliwal, the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, with details and screenshots of what Jha had said, but received no response.
Newslaundry tried contacting Jha several times for this story but could not reach him.