Prime Minister Narendra Modi has long been criticised for allegedly encouraging the nasty right-wing Twitter trolls by even following some of them on the microblogging site.
But the incessant criticism has not deterred him from unfollowing them thereby prompting many to conclude that the trolls, often notorious for hurling abuses at female social media users and journalists critical of the central government’s policies, enjoyed tacit approval of the prime minister.
On late hours of Tuesday, Twitter users were left horrified when a government’s official Twitter handle shared two hateful messages tweeted by right-wing trolls.
The Twitter handle in question was @startupindia, which is a brainchild of Modi, who, in January this year, launched the initiative amidst much fanfare primarily to encourage entrepreneurship in the country.
The initiative is yet to deliver any tangible results, but it seems the official Twitter handle has been put to use to further the right-wing agenda of the ruling party.
Journalist Rohini Singh first posted the following tweet expressing her shock and horror on a central government’s official Twitter handle retweeting a political message posted by a troll.
— Rohini Singh (@Rohinisgh_ET) July 26, 2016
The user @Sirjadejaaaa was understandably commenting on Kashmir unrest, which has seen the deaths of dozens of people in the valley.
His tweet read, “Indian Army Should Be Freed For 1 Day To Take Care Of These Pro Pak #Presstitutes To Make These #ProPakDovesSilent For Eternity.
RT If Agree”
And among those who ‘agreed’ with this user’s suggestion to give Indian army the freedom for a day to ‘take care of ‘pro-Pak presstitutes’ was @starupindia Twitter handle of the central government.
#ProPakDovesSilent was the hashtag promoted by Times Now news channel while debating Kashmir unrest on Tuesday night. It was during this debate that a panelist had allegedly termed Indian army as rapist prompting right-wing users to post angry tweets.
Start Up India also appeared to agree with another user, Ganeshan Iyer, who concluded that Rakhi Sawant was more useful to ‘this nation than Meera (Mihira) Sood (a law grad from Columbia University was also on the panel of Times Now debate).’
Like @Sirjadejaaaa, Ganeshan too ended his tweet with ‘RT if you agree.’
And Start Up India Twitter handle ‘moved’ with lightening speed to answer in affirmative.
The bizarre development was also noticed by user Joy Das, and Aabshar, who tweeted the following.
— Joy (@Joydas) July 26, 2016
— Aabshar (@Scepticindian) July 26, 2016
Senior journalist Barkha Dutt, who has been covering Kashmir extensively since the unrest began earlier this month, too appeared shocked.
In response to Rohini’s tweet Barkha said, “@Rohinisgh_ET is it ? wow @startupindia”
Since then, the Start Up India has corrected its mistakes and removed the tweets from its timeline. But, the issue is bound to snowball into a full-blown controversy as social media users wake up to this development on Wednesday morning.