The recent passport fiasco involving Sadiya Anas (Tanvi Seth) and her husband Anas Siddiqui brought to light many things.
First Sadiya aka Tanvi sent out emotional tweets to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj alleging that she had been moral policed by a passport official in Lucknow for not changing her name post marriage. The action in favour of the ‘inter-faith’ couple was swift and the passport officer was transferred to Gorakhpur. The couple was also speedily issued a passport.
Slowly but surely the other side of the story started coming out when the transferred passport officer claimed that the woman who was portraying herself as Tanvi Seth, had her name written on her Nikahnama as “Sadiya Anas”. This as per the officer necessitated a scrutiny to ensure that, no one is changing their names to obtain a passport.
The possible innocence of the passport officer led many on social media to back him and via association question Sushma Swaraj as well, for the seemingly wrongful action. Unfortunately, Swaraj during this episode was also subjected to distasteful online attacks by people who felt that she was unfair in her action.
While the wrongful nature of the below the belt comments could not be disputed, Swaraj surprised many by choosing to only focus on this aspect after returning from her foreign trip. Swaraj though even for a moment did not address the legitimate questions being raised about her ministry’s handling of the matter:
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.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 24, 2018
This act of Swaraj highlighting the hate directed towards her, gave ammo to various controversial journalists like Barkha Dutt to start targeting the “right-wing trolls” and BJP supporters for the episode.
This was taken to the next level by a Hindustan Times report, which chose to paint mainstream Right-wing Twitter users as mere “trolls” as part of their “investigation” into the matter. This included claiming that PM Modi followed eight such “trolls” and BJP MPs follow 41 such individuals who “trolled” Sushma Swaraj.
As per the report, Swaraj had liked about 200 tweets following her return to India, was done to showcase the trolling she had been on the receiving end of. The report thus proceeded to “expose” some of the “trolls” which surprisingly included columnist Shefali Vaidya and prominent journalist Manak Gupta:
Incidentally such assertions by journalists and mainstream media portals to paint popular figures as “trolls”, says less about the “trolls” and more about the left’s contempt for any form of dissent.
To prove so, let’s step back and find out what a “troll” literally means. A troll as defined is an, “a mythical ugly cave-dwelling creature depicted as either a giant or a dwarf, having a grotesque appearance”. In online terms, it might be used to describe a person deliberately making provocative posts, but its the literal meaning which best helps drive the point.
Doesn’t it seem very convenient for the left to ensure that political dissenters be seen as a mythical, ugly and ultimately very undesirable creatures because that makes their ideology mythical, outlandish and not in tune with the country’s existence? Something which the communists have been trying so hard for so long to do with the Right Wingers, which is – a conflicting ideology and its followers don’t deserve to exist.
While abusers exist on both sides of the spectrum, by pulling Shefali down, they attempt to discredit the entire online support base for its ideology by pulling down one of its most popular commentators.
With Manak, they seem to be sending a message to their fellow journalist that: “If you are not on our side, you are a troll”. Manak is known to have gained popularity on Twitter for calling a spade a spade regardless of ideology and is often critical of Congress (even BJP) and the Lutyens media.
In hindsight, it might not be too wrong to call the actions of Swaraj (which triggered this targeting of Right-Wingers in the first place) as “abhorrent and unbecoming of a leader”. For she focuses solely on some vile abuses and not the serious question raised, regarding a passport which was issued without proper verification.
She might be further scrutinised in this matter as latest reports have claimed that the self-proclaimed inter-faith couple’s passport may be blocked as they possibly gave wrong details in their passport application.
Latest reports have quoted the police as saying that the couple has not been living at their prescribed address for over a year, following which further investigation would be done by the Regional Passport Office. Thereby again raising the question as to why and on whose directives were the couple issued passports in a lightning-quick manner.
Thus Swaraj can’t just brush away the matter by saying, “I was out of town and didn’t know what was happening” or “Look how I was abused”. She is now personally invested in this matter and she must answer or at the very least issue a clarification.