“देखियो कोई तेरी इज्जत न लूट ले बावरी छोरी (Translation: Be careful that nobody rapes you)“, is how a Twitter handle called shiv982 responded to another handle called Rofl_Sardarni. The biography of the Twitter handle which issued this underhanded rape threat states, “[Student][@RSSOrg][Member @bjp4India] #mission2019 Honoured and blessed to be followed by prime minister sh. @narendramodi and @piyushgoyaloffc“. The tweet has now been deleted and shiv982 has changed his Twitter handle to shivamhindu45.
In the last few days, the accounts that PM Modi follows on Twitter have come under spotlight. At AltNews, we wrote about the handles that PM Modi follow and were abusing Gauri Lankesh after her murder. This included one handle which said “A bitch died a dog’s death and all of her litter is crying in the same voice“. We wrote another article where we detailed a partial list of serial abusers, sexist bigots, rumour mongers that PM Modi follows on Twitter. Other than Alt News, multiple people on social media and main stream media raised this issue. BJP finally had to issue a statement regarding the issue and this is what they had to say.
— BJP (@BJP4India) September 7, 2017
The central argument seems to be that Prime Minister Modi firmly believes in people’s freedom of speech, “He is a rare leader who truly believes in freedom of speech and has never blocked or unfollowed anyone on Twitter. We have multiple examples of leaders curbing free speech on social media, including the previous PMO handle.”
As far as freedom of speech is concerned, Gujarat Government had allowed a sedition case against Times of India journalists while PM Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The sedition case was eventually shot down by Gujarat High Court. That doesn’t speak very well for PM Modi’s love for freedom of speech.
However, even if PM Modi has had a change of heart regarding the same, can rape threats, character assassination, rumour-mongering which could lead to riots be characterised as freedom of speech?
Rishi Bagree, Alok Bhatt, Anurag Dixit and ‘Narendra Modi News’ are all followed by PM Modi on Twitter.
Nikunj Sahu who is followed by PM Modi says, “मेघा पाटकर जैसी कुतिया भौकि अपनी बहन के मरने पे। गौरी लंकेश की हत्या कर्नाटक सरकार का काम है इस काम की हम सरहाना करते है। (Translation: A bitch like Medha Patkar is barking on her sister’s death. Karnataka Government is responsible for Gauri Lankesh’s murder and we support this)“. Is this freedom of speech?
If all of this is freedom of speech, why did BJP have such a huge problem with the events in JNU? Is it ‘Nationalistic’ to brand women as prostitutes? Is it ‘Nationalistic’ to issue rape threats?
Rashtra ke viruddh ke vichar ko Freedom of speech ka chola nahi pehnaya ja sakta: Amit Shah,BJP Pres in Mangaluru pic.twitter.com/HK9o278KEU
— ANI (@ANI) August 21, 2016
The claim that PM Modi doesn’t unfollow anyone also looks suspect. Jwala Gurunath who had a spat with Delhi BJP Spokesperson Tajinder bagga was allegedly unfollowed by PM Modi.
— Dr Jwala Gurunath (@DrJwalaG) March 26, 2017
The second part of the argument is even more specious. The statement issued by BJP IT Cell Head Amit Malviya states, “PM following someone is not a character certificate of a person is not in anyway a guarantee of how a person would conduct himself. However, PM also follows Rahul Gandhi, who is an accused in loot and fraud. PM also follows Arvind Kejriwal, who abused him on Twitter and told a woman ‘Settle Kar Lo’ when she complained
of a party member molseting her.”
PM follows Donald Trump who once stated in a private conversation “Grab ’em by the pussy” while referring to a woman. He also follows Haryana CM ML Khattar who said “If they (women) want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked?“. In the same capacity that PM follows Donald Trump and ML Khattar, PM also follows Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi – because they are established political leaders. Comparing following them to following party workers and enthusiasts is the most ridiculous argument ever.
Finally, isn’t the Prime Minister of the country supposed to lead by example? Or is the Prime Minister supposed to give indirect endorsement to such people by following them? All of them invariably feature the following their biography, “Proud/Blessed/ to be followed by PM Modi“. People whom PM Modi follows are issuing rape threats, branding women as prostitutes, abusing them again and again. How on the planet can that be justified in any which way? Did you not deride the opposition on this same issue?
From Tandoor Case to recent Latur Case, Congress' 'commitment' to safety & dignity of women is evident. Nothing has changed in so many years
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 9, 2014
Respected PM, kindly do not promote such shameful elements of the society. You represent India on the world stage.