On 19 June 2020, an Indian man dressed as Xi Jinping walked a busy Kolkata street ahead of a mob carrying a wooden gallows. He wore a black suit, a red tie and a solemn expression. The stage makeup and bouffant hair made him look more like a vintage Hollywood star than the Chinese president, but that did not deter his angry audience. For his finale, at a fixed point the performer stepped into the gallows, slid the thick rope around his neck and tilted it to the left, sticking out his tongue to complete the effect.
Just four days before, Chinese and Indian forces had fought by the Galwan River, which divides the two nations through mountainous territory. The clashes killed twenty Indian soldiers (China reported no casualties at that time). Their bodies arrived in Delhi wrapped in the Indian flag and their cremations were covered on national television. Not since 1962, during a border war between the Asian neighbours, had Indians demonstrated such outrage towards China. Protests broke out across the country. Thousands of people wanted to see the Chinese premier dead. Many of them played out their hateful fantasy by erecting his effigy, pelting it with stones, carrying it on funeral biers and, in multiple locations, burning it in city centres.