Sushma Swaraj becomes the latest victim of Internet trolling

The external affairs minister faces online wrath over a row involving an inter-faith couple and a passport official

June 25, 2018 11:15 am | Updated June 29, 2018 07:26 am IST

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was on Sunday trolled and abused on Twitter over a controversy involving the issuance of passports to an inter-faith couple in Uttar Pradesh.

"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," she wrote on Twitter while "liking" numerous tweets abusing her.

Passport controversy

Last week, Passport Seva Kendra official Vikas Mishra in Lucknow was transferred after an inter-faith couple tweeted alleging that they were humiliated by him and their passport applications were rejected as the woman hadn't change her surname post marriage, and that her husband was asked to "convert to Hinduism."

The next day, passports were issued to the couple and they thanked Ms. Swaraj and her Ministry. Mr. Mishra, on his part, claimed he refused to issue passport since the woman's name was different in the ‘nikahnama’.

A section on social media who felt Mr. Mishra was unfairly targetted, began posting tweets with #ISupportVikasMishra hashtag and soon they turned their ire towards Ms. Swaraj.

Ms. 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.

Ms. Swaraj on Sunday 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.


Ms. 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.


Congress supports Sushma

Ms. Swaraj, however, got support from some unlikely quarters. 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 journalist Barkha Dutt , who have been repeatedly targetted by trolls for their stand, extended their support to Ms. Swaraj. There were also tweets seeking action from Twitter against trolls.


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