External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was on Sunday trolled and abused on Twitter over a controversy involving the issuance of passport to an inter-faith couple.
Swaraj, however, took it in her stride, her offcial handle re-tweeting some abusive comments.
“I was out of India from 17th to 23rd June 2018. I do not know what happened in my absence. However, I am honoured with some tweets. I am sharing them with you. So I have liked them,” Swaraj said.
The foreign minister had been on an official trip to Italy, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the European Union.
Last week, a Passport Seva Kendra official, Vikas Mishra, in Lucknow was transferred after the inter-faith couple alleged that he humiliated them when they went to the office with their passport applications.
According to the couple, they faced harassment at the local passport office and the woman was asked to change her name and religion. Married in 2007, Tanvi Seth and Anas Sidiqui have a 7-year-old daughter.
Sidiqui said the officer “asked me to change my name, my religion… He said one of us has to change our name or religion.”
The next day, passports were issued to the couple and they thanked Swaraj and her Ministry. Mishra was transferred. He, on his part, claimed he refused to issue passport since the woman’s name was different in the ‘nikahnama’.
Mishra had said in his defence that he was secular and had told the woman that her ‘nikahnama’ showed her name as Shazia Anas, which should be endorsed in her file.
“For this she refused. If she had consented… we would have sent it to the ‘A’ section for data modification. We have to see which person is taking the passport in what name. There is documentary proof, how can we ignore that. I am secular and I have myself had an inter-caste marriage,” he told the media.
Some people criticised the foreign minister for transferring the officer, for what they claimed was a person who was simply doing his duty. They attacked Swaraj and the ministry for taking action against Mishra, claiming that he was just doing his duty.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj , who was on a four-nation European nations visit at that time, didn’t reply to any of the tweets pertaining to the issue. On Sunday, she liked as many as 70 tweets, all of them abusing her and calling her names. Many tweets branded Ms. Swaraj as “Visa Mata” or “passport mata” and likened her interventions to grant medical visas to Pakistanis as her support to Muslims. Some tweeple demanded that she should be removed from the Cabinet.
Swaraj highlighted the tweets that sought her retirement from politics, on how she was compromising on “national security”, and how she might have done it “to boost her publicity.” Many tweets were misogynistic and hate-driven in nature, with even her health condition not spared. She had recently undergone surgery for a kidney ailment.
The Congress condemned the behaviour of the Twitter users who used foul language against the foreign minister, who is known to reply regularly on the social media platform to people, especially Indians aboard, who need help with matters concerning her ministry. The official handle of the Congress tweeted in her favour. “No matter the situation or reason, nothing calls for threats of violence, disrespect & abuse. @SushmaSwaraj ji, we applaud your decision to call out the heinous trolls of your own party,” the tweet read.
People like actor Swara Bhaskar and journalists Barkha Dutt and Nidhi Razdan, who have been repeatedly targetted by trolls for their stand, also extended their support to Swaraj. There were also tweets seeking action from Twitter against trolls.
Many others, too tweeted in support of the foreign minister.
“Can you guys stop this nonsense for once and for all. She… did a lot for everyone irrespective of caste or religion. If you have any problem then there is proper way to communicate your message not like ill-mannered nuts,” a Twitter user by the handle @teawithdev said.