Home Opinions Dear Sushma Swaraj, wish you had called out the abuse earlier as well

Dear Sushma Swaraj, wish you had called out the abuse earlier as well

While what happens on social media seldom stays there, social media should not be confused for real life. As a public figure, one is under constant scrutiny and should be ready for praises as well as criticism. The anonymity that the Internet provides sometimes brings out the viciousness in many and while there is no justification for abuses, there is hardly anything one can do in the ever-expanding Internet universe without bringing in the awful thing called censorship.

Recently, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj faced a lot of abuse over the Lucknow passport office incident where an ‘interfaith’ couple had accused a passport officer of indulging in moral policing and harassment. Lucknow office, on getting a tweet from Sadia Anas alias Tanvi Seth on Twitter, swung into action, and without verification issued passport in less than 24 hours. Eventually, the police found out that Sadia does not live at the address she has put up in her passport application form. Since this is not the first time Swaraj and her office have issued passports to people for trivial reasons while many Indians stranded abroad don’t get an audience with them, many on Twitter were critical of the enthusiasm of Lucknow office. Unfortunately, under the cloak of anonymity, some of these tweets ranged from abuses to threats. Irrespective of gender, no one should be subjected to any sort of abuse or threat.

However, Swaraj, who was not in India when the episode took place, on her return focused on the abuses instead of the lapse of judgement in her office. She painted even many of her supporters, who were only critical of her office, as ‘trolls’.

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But as someone who has been on the receiving end of the abuses since quite a few years now, we wish Sushma Swaraj had spoken up earlier. Like the time someone wanted to ‘strip her on stage’ for not confirmed murder of 39 Indians abducted in Mosul, Iraq, because of lack of confirmation of their deaths.

A Twitter user called Kurien Chacko, who regularly retweets and supports the Congress party has a particular hatred for the women ministers in the Cabinet. He seems like a fan of “liberal” politics.

Or that one time when Sushma Swaraj gave a powerful speech in Parliament and took on Congress regarding quid pro quo in helping Bhopal gas tragedy accused Union Carbide chief Anderson to escape India.

A disgruntled employee of the passport office also took to Twitter to abuse her for transferring him to Thane office.

One fellow also described her as a ‘randi’, just like that.

The abuses just don’t end.

These are just a few. There are many, many, many more directed to women, politicians and otherwise on Twitter. I have been on receiving end as well, where absolute strangers have asked me to drink cow urine. I have had the editor of Janta Ka Reporter and abusive troll Swati Chaturvedi cheer for an Aam Aadmi Pary supporter who wished death upon me.

Ministers like Smriti Irani have been on the receiving end of the most sexually explicit innuendos on Twitter, sometimes, even by politicians. While one is glad that a powerful politician is taking a stand against abuses, one only wishes she would not paint all criticism with the same brush. Using the abuse as a smokescreen to avoid pertinent questions is an insult to her own strength and professionalism. And if she is calling out the abuse now, not merely as a smokescreen, one can only wish she had not ignored the abuses then and stood up for her colleagues who have been recipients of some of the vilest abuses.

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