This article was published in the online edition of Swarajya on 24 September 2021.
After suffering abuse and threats of harm on Twitter for many years, I decided to lodge a formal complaint with Twitter after I realised that there is a well-organised Islamist group which has put me on their hit list: they openly declare that they engineer mass reporting against my Twitter handle in order to get me banned from the platform.
What is worse, some of them are openly urging their team members to beat me up (lynch?) publicly.
Below, I share the full text of a complaint I sent on 31 August 2018 to Vinay Prakash, resident grievance officer of Twitter India. I have not yet received any response. In case, Twitter India does not take any action against the offending persons, I intend to explore other means of redressal because they have exceeded all limits in tarnishing my reputation and could well be planning to harm me physically. If we continue to suffer in silence, we are likely to suffer the fate of Kamlesh Tiwari.
Text of Letter to Vinay Prakash:
Dear Mr Prakash,
SUBJECT: Reporting imminent threat to life, conspiracy, criminal intimidation, defamation, outraging modesty, cyber bullying, harassment, abetment to assault, abusive and vulgar comments, stalking, organised targeting, cyber terrorism, hurting religious sentiments, wanton vilification, attack on religion, rioting and insult on social media platform, Twitter. Requesting prompt action against anti-social elements harassing and threatening me on Twitter.
I am an internationally acclaimed academic, editor and writer. My brief introduction is as follows:
Starting March 2021, I joined Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (a social science research centre at Teen Murti House) as a senior professor;
From 2017 to 2020, I was National Professor, Indian Council of Social Science Research;
Till 2016, I was a senior professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
In addition, I am the founder and managing trustee of human rights/women’s rights organisation, Manushi and founder editor of Manushi — A Journal About Women & Society. Our office moved from Civil Lines to Sarita Vihar in 2018.
As a policy, Manushi stays away from political party affiliations. From its inception in 1978, Manushi Trust & Journal remained fiercely independent by choosing to be self-supporting. We said a firm ‘No’ to government grants, ‘No’ to money from foreign donor agencies. This spirit of independence earned us respect from all quarters.
Sir, I have been in public life for the last 50 years commencing from my college days. I have an unblemished and a spotless track record. My research, writings and my selfless work for society, especially its vulnerable sections, have earned me widespread respect — cutting across political and ideological divides. Even those who may oppose my views, have not been able to point to a single instance of wrong doing by me in the last five decades. Very few people in public life can claim such a record.
However, ever since I published a series of articles in 2013 culminating in a well-researched book, Modi, Muslims & Media in 2014, exposing the fake narrative around the Gujarat riots of 2002, I have been targeted, brutally trolled, threatened, abused and defamed on social media, which has begun to impact not only my health but also endangers my safety and security.
I ignored it for long years but now the situation has assumed menacing proportions capable of culminating in lethal consequences. Therefore, I feel compelled to lodge this formal complaint and demand stern action against the perpetrators of these criminal offences. The starting point has to be the registration of first information report (FIR) under relevant provisions of law.
I, being a public figure, am active on social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. I regularly share my reasoned and articulate opinions on current affairs as well as historical events on social media. Mine is a strong and well-reasoned voice against #BreakUpIndiaForces and the #TukdeTukdeGang. Even though I have no connection with the BJP, all those who have a pathological aversion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pour out their venom against me with ferocity in order to erase my presence from all social media platforms. I have more than two million followers on Twitter and my views are taken seriously by people at large. Prime Minister Modi as well as senior leaders of different parties follow my handle. Because of this, the #BreakUpIndiaGang wishes to extinguish my presence on social media.
All these persons seem to be working at the behest of external and internal enemies of India. Therefore, they have been running systematic campaigns to defame and harm me in order to provoke violence against me in order to intimidate me into silence. They create so much negativity around me that if some bigots carry out violent acts against me, they can appear totally justified, as for instance they did with Kamlesh Tiwari who was slaughtered with brutality for defending Hindu Dharma against malicious abuse.
Cyber Terrorism on @Twitter by Organized Gangsters:
Speaking specifically about @Twitter, certain known handles coupled with anonymous accounts have subjected me to well organised hate campaigns on Twitter.
- They are indulging in criminal intimidation, cyber bullying, cyber harassment and defamation aimed at outraging my modesty and dignity as a woman by posting insulting, abusive and obscene comments against me;
- They have carried out a series of campaigns urging their network to mass report my personal Twitter account in order to terrorise and intimidate me into silence through organised gangsterism amounting to cyber terrorism;
- They are openly instigating that I be beaten up, that i.e. they want me to be lynched publicly;
- They want to see me locked up in “some kind of jail” for life and the key thrown away so that I rot inside for life. This means the jail won’t be that of Bharat Sarkar but the kind of jails the Taliban uses!
- They are publicly instigating bigoted elements to pour venom on me, deliberately directed at harming my reputation in the eyes of right-thinking members of society and causing grievous damage to my public image;
- They have subjected me to communally targeted and religious hate;
- They have maligned my otherwise stellar reputation so that I become an object of derision and contempt in the eyes of not just Muslims, but also their supporters among leftists and other susceptible, impressionable minds. Young relatives of mine are getting very adversely affected by such character assassination on a large scale.
- If I had actually committed any wrongs, they could have easily filed a legal case against me but they keep urging the police (especially of the TMC-ruled state of Bengal) to arrest me without any substantial charge. The absence of even a single police or court case against me indicates that their charges are part of a propaganda war to silence all those who stand up in defence of India and its much wronged ancient civilisation.
@TeamSaath, the Leader of Cyber Terrorism: This handle run anonymously has led several mass reporting campaigns against me. It is leading a well-organised pack of trolls to abuse and ‘mass report’ me in order to pressurise @Twitter to suspend my account permanently. The reach of this handle is enormous because it seems to be part of a well-organised anti-India network. The extent of damage being done to my reputation can be gauged by the fact that:
|From July 24 to July 30, 2021 – in just one week alone-
the hateful tweets posted by this handle demanding
my suspension from Twitter reached 3.1 million persons.
@TeamSaath was able to generate 2,700 tweets targeting me as part of “mass reporting” during the above-mentioned week. All of these 2,700 Tweets carried the #SuspendMadhuKishwar tag. The operator(s) of this handle, started in November 2020, has (have) run several such hate campaigns against me over the last few months.
Sample of tweets, aimed at banning me, invoking violence, spreading hate against me and my community, thereby constituting serious criminal offences:
@TeamSaathTweet dated July 24, 2021: Are you lending your platform to be weaponised against the Muslims @TwitterSafety? Nothing, absolutely nothing explains the immunity this Islamophobe is enjoying on @Twitter. Each day she ridicules your rules! Suspend @madhukishwar. Please report her for “Directing hate”.
Within minutes, the chorus of this well-organised network of anti-nationals and cyber terrorists start ranting in an orchestrated manner, as is evident from the samples given below. Some of them appear to be bots but some even have a number of verified handles baying for my suspension. Twitter has suspended my account multiple times at their behest and restored it only after forcing me to remove tweets which had no abusive words. But @Twitter takes no action against their abusive tweets hurled at me.
A sample of offensive content posted against me is reproduced here in under:
Farhaad @Farhaad36677304 writes on July 30: Yehkutiyahai.[She is bitch] #SuspendMadhuKishwar.
Point to Note: Twitter took no action against Farhaad for calling me a kutiya, which is one of the most humiliating abuses a woman can be subjected to.
Azam Pathan@azamoptom writes on July 29: ज़हरीलीनागिन[Poisonous Snake]
Point to Note: No action by Twitter against this abuse.
Mike's Chatter @FekuKiGoliyan writes on July 25: Why this Madhu Kishwar should not be beaten up publically(sic) with shoes, even our fake secular feminist will oppose that action the way they oppose Shiv Sainik’s action on Kangna poster.
Point to Note: This is openly urging people to lynch me. But Twitter took no action.
Mike's Chatter @FekuKiGoliyan had written again on July 25: In 2024, please ensure Madhu Kishwar is thrown into some kind of prison and the keys thrown away. Mad bitch.
Points to Note: This is spine chilling for the following reasons: They seem all prepared to defeat the present regime in 2024, which is legally no crime. But then they intend to unleash Bengal type violence on all those who do not join them in demonising and bringing down BJP or PM Modi.
Notice also the use of the term ‘Mad Bitch”. Apart from being a sexist insult, what do people do with mad bitches? Kill them! Moreover, the term, “some kind of prison” clearly implies that they don’t intend to get me locked up in a government prison because the government prison would not throw away the keys after jailing a person declared an “offender”.
The government of India also follows due process trial before conviction. What they have in mind are prisons of the kind run by ISIS in Syria where they brutalise Yezidi women as sex slaves or the kind of jails maintained by the Taliban in areas under the charge of terror brigades.
Dr Mohammed Ismail @smile47_ismail writes on July 29: #SuspendMadhuKishwarZheerelekedehai sale…[They are poisonous vermin]
Point to Note: Dr Ismail does not call me alone poisonous vermin but the abusive term “साले“ and “कीड़ेare plural nouns. This amounts to calling me and others like me, (meaning Hindus?) poisonous vermin. And what do you do with vermin, except destroy them! For the record, Dr. Ismail claims to be an “Ayush doctor”.
Shahnawaz Ansari(@shanu_sab),another cyber bully & abuser calls me,ख़ंजिर के नाल की ड़ायन। — a term I have never heard before. To quote his tweet:कभी तो शर्म कर ले ख़ंजिर के नाल की ड़ायन और कितना ज़हर भरा है तेरे अंदर? तूम हिला है।तुझे शर्म नहीं आती एक समुदाय के ख़िलाफ़ झूठ फैलाते हुए? आए दिन ज़लील होती है लेकिन अपनी आदत नाहिं छोड़ती बेगैरत।
[Have some shame, you witch of Khanjir race. How much more poison do you have inside you? Don’t you feel ashamed of spreading hatred against a community? Every day you are humiliated/shamed but you shameless woman, you do not give up your habit]
Point to Note: He even sent a WhatsApp message on my personal phone from his mobile number 7********6 declaring that he is part of a group that reports “abusive” accounts to get them suspended. He too has been leading vile hysteria against me among Muslim youth urging all he can reach to mass report me for “spreading hatred against Muslims”. Notice his foul language. But he has the gall to accuse me of being hateful when I am not given to hurling personal abuses but always base my comments on verifiable facts. If ever I go wrong, I am the first person to accept my lapse and make the required correction.
Sayema@_sayema, another nasty troll with over 925K followers with a verified account. As a close associate of @TeamSaath, she gloated:
Please report her for ‘Hate’. She has been propagating hate and bigotry shamelessly. @verified how is this acceptable?@TwitterIndia, please suspend her handle permanently. Despite many temporary suspensions, she hasn’t learnt any lessons!#SuspendMadhuKishwar@TeamSaath
Point to Note: Sayema uses such nasty words for me time and again. She has repeatedly joined campaigns to get me suspended. For the record, I have never followed her, never retaliated or even bothered to respond to her. And yet I am the hatemonger and she a paragon of virtue.
Nazre Imam @inazreimam wrote: Hindutva terror-minded Sanghi bigot and hate-bornfilth like @madhukishwar should be permanently suspended. #SuspendMadhuKishwar Please report her for ‘Hate’. She has been propagating hate and bigotry shamelessly. @verified how is this acceptable? @TwitterIndia
Point to Note: I am being labelled terror-minded and hateful just because I oppose jihadi and Maoist violence. Even though, I have no connection with RSS and am yet being abused as ‘Sanghi bigot”.
Noor Alam@archnooralam: Please suspend her handle permanently. Despite many temporary suspensions, she hasn’t learnt any lessons!#SuspendMadhuKishwar@TeamSaath
Point to Note: Robotically following command of @TeamSaath@IsranRar1:#SuspendMadhuKishwar. Enough is enough suspend this shit now A certified hater.
Point to Note: Calling me “shit” is their idea of demonstrating love while me, the object of such abuses, is portrayed as “hateful”.
Syeda Sadia Hasan @CyberWarrior SS writes: #SuspendMadhuKishwaraccount @Twitter @TeamSaath @madhukishwar A certified hater”
Point to Note: She is blindly following the spoon-fed script of hate against me, as part of a concerted campaign without any provocation from my side. PROFESSOR @Fraudprofess0r like several other trolls posted GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) of a poisonous snake and call me a ZehreeliNaagin.
Annexure 2 is a photograph of a venom spitting cobra. Such images have been posted countless times to vilify me and provoke violence against me.
|Such images have been posted countless times to vilify me
and provoke violence against me.
AveekSen@aveeksen posted on July 27: Indian ruling party @BJP4Indiatroll Professor @madhukishwarlabels as Jihadi award-winning journalist @dansiddiquikilled by the Taliban just because he's Muslim. Who all RTed/shared it?? First report by us at @hateSWATteam#HateSpeech#Misinformationhttps://hateswatteam.com/?p=70
Points to Note: I have no connection with BJP or any other political party. Secondly, I opposed the demand for Rs 1 crore award to the family of Danish Siddiqui, not because he was a Muslim but because he was a leading member of Jamia University’s #BreakUpIndiaGang and had mobilised hate soaked campaign against CAA using false propaganda.
EedMudasir @syeed_mudasir wrote on July 25: Does it never embarrass you that you have become practically synonymous with fakery and cheap misinformation? Is there absolutely nothing positive in your life? Why so…toxic?
Point to Note: This is a good example of उलटा चोर कोतवाल को डांटे! While I am being subjected to a toxic hate campaign, I am being accused of being toxic. Mudasiris a Kashmiri Muslim and his Twitter handle carries the following advice…
“…And Allah (SWT) will not punish them, while they seek forgiveness.”
Does it imply that unless I, as a Kafir, seek forgiveness of his Allah and convert to Islam, I cannot be forgiven?
On April 2020, he retweeted Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s tweet:
We strongly condemn the racist Hindutva Supremacist Modi Govt's continuing attempts to illegally alter the demography of IOJK in violation of all international laws & treaties. The new Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Order 2020 is a clear violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.
Thus in his view, PM Modi is a “racist Hindutva supremacist” acting lawlessly in “Indian Occupied” JK. This gives you an idea of the depth of his pro-Pakistan sentiments.
@Raiyanazmi14tweeted: Ku re jahilsanghan the kutaqleefhui.. [You jaahilSanghan, what is bothering you?]
Point to Note: Even though I have never had any association with the RSS, an oft-used abusive term hurled at me is “Sanghan”.
Modi Bengal Haar Gaya @5ytForRyt Writes: Freebee biryani wali aunty @gunjankapoor @TejinderBagga, Khaki ChaddiSanghanmodi ki Jasoos Hai [Freebee Biryani aunty Gunjan Kapoor, Tejinder Bagga and “Khaki ChaddiSanghan (meaning me) are spies of Modi. This is accompanied by a cartoon of PM Modi in half lungi peeping into people’s homes through a keyhole.
Point to Note: Khaki Chaddi Sanghan is an insulting abusive term. Moreover, we know how even in places like Kashmir or Afghanistan, Islamists slaughter those who they suspect of being government spies or informers.
TRP king @sid80dude: Why is your khaki nicker is in a twist ? You give Bharat Ratana to Savarkar or Chota Rajan and be happy.
Point to Note: He is maliciously equating a venerated freedom fighter with an underworld don!
@singhgurinder85: Keep your mouth shut you piece of shit Sanghan… Don't interfere into Sikh's issue.
Points to Note: The above is clearly a Pak-propped Khalistani or islamist posing as a militant Sikh. Since RSS is always defamed as a “fascist” outfit, I too get pushed into that noxious space even though I have never been part of RSS. This amounts to criminal defamation, as it is a false statement made to malign my reputation.
Further, it is aimed at denigrating the RSS which amounts to insulting an organisation only because it has a history of being associated with Hindu causes even though they are forever in the appeasement mode vis a vis Muslims.
Screenshots of offensive profiles and handles on @Twitter along with respective URL are enclosed with the present complaint and marked as Annexure 3 Colly. The offensive content i.e. tweets, pictures and GIF along with corresponding URLs are enclosed with the present complaint and marked as Annexure 4 Colly.
No Retaliation or Abusive Tweets by Me: It is noteworthy that I have never ever used abusive language against anyone on SM or even in real life. Nor have I ever picked up cudgels against any of these hateful handles. In fact, I do not even follow them. I have simply ignored the abuses they hurl at me.
Sadly, this has emboldened them no end. My only fault is that I subject all politicians, including Islamic leaders and even the prime minister of India, to critical scrutiny. I oppose the appeasement policies of the Indian state and do not subscribe to the propaganda that Muslims are a persecuted minority in India when in fact they have better rights in India than in any Islamic country and special privileges and rights within our Constitution that are not available even to the so-called majority community.
As someone who comes from a family of 1947 Partition refugees and refugees from Kashmir, I have a right to be critical of the politics that led to ethnic cleansing of Hindus in what became Pakistan as well as in Kashmir.
Coordinated Handiwork of India/Hindu Haters: These tweets are a good example of the coordinated handiwork of anti-social, habitual India bashers using bullying, defamation, and intimidation to trample upon my fundamental rights. These offenders not only attack me personally but their tweets also amount to spreading hatred against all those Hindus who stand up for India, their culture and faith. It is frightening to think that in one week alone their tweets vilifying me reached 31 lakh persons. (See Annexure 1).
I will submit many more such hateful comments from Twitter once the investigation starts.
Repeated Suspension of My Twitter Account & Major Setbacks:
Thanks to this sustained hate campaign, my Twitter account has faced numerous assaults.
I have reliable information that my Twitter account has been red flagged by Twitter. Red flagged handles are removed from Twitter’s suggestion algorithm to stunt their growth of followers.
Once I reached a following of 22.63 lakhs in May 2018, my account was shadow-banned and/or firewalled so that none of my followers get to automatically view my tweets. They have to make the effort to search out my handle.
My account has witnessed daily decline of followers which is strange because my following was organic, not boosted artificially;
From May 2018, when my following was 22.63 lakhs, today my following has come down to 20.17 lakhs. Had it happened organically, I would not mind. But this is the result of systematic targeting and attempts to marginalise and silence me and decimate the rashtravadi forces.
At one time my account was hijacked and all kinds of objectionable material posted on it and made inaccessible to me; which not only amounts to unauthorised use but also breaches my right to privacy.
On July 25 when they got my Twitter account suspended for a day for the third time,this is what was said”
@TeamSaath gloated: Finally, some action from @Twitter on @MadhuKishwar. Her Tweet has been deleted by @Twitter and account locked for 12 hours. But that’s not enough. @TwitterSafety, enforce your own rules and #SuspendMadhuKishwar for being a repeat offender.”
My response to the above tweet of TeamSaath contained not a single abusive or nasty word:
@madhukishwar 27 July: Ultachor kotwal ko daante! आपकी हिम्मत को सलाम Did no one ever tell U that there is life even after @Twitter? You & I are engaged in an epochal battle! By trying to get me suspended from @Twitter you only prove that our worst fears are not unfounded & strengthen our resolve. Enjoy!
On July 29, @TeamSaath launched yet another campaign to target me:
We request all verified handles (tagged) to report @madhukishwar under the head “Abusive or harmful/directing hate against a protected category”
Point to Note: They tagged several known handles like @sushantsays @RichaChadha @sakshijoshi @_sayeema @MANJUTToons etc, none of which I follow or engage with. These people are clearly part of this organised gang either as paid trolls or due to ideological affiliation.
Professional Hit Jobs by @TeamSaath: I am not the sole target of @TeamSaath. They are professionally trained to do hit jobs. On July 24 @TeamSaath gloated over their success in getting accounts of Ankit Saxena and Just4India suspended. On July 26, @TeamSaath proudly announced that @Arpittaneja8 account has been suspended following their campaign. They also got @TheSkinDoctor account suspended for some days. This clearly shows that this group has been set up with the specific purpose of silencing all those who do not fall in line with the Islamist mandate. It has in effect arrogated to itself the right to be a super censorship body on social media.
Last month the same bunch of hounds got me suspended from Club House for a whole week to sabotage a series of discussions we had scheduled on important issues of national importance.
Assault on My Fundamental Right to Free Speech & Character Assassination: This concerted hate campaign tramples upon my fundamental right to free speech. They want to choke me because I am among those who openly challenge the fake narratives being peddled by ‘BreakUpIndiaForces’ and am read with respect not just within India but also globally. This is because my writing is based on meticulous research, not just casual opinion mongering. My writing poses a threat to their subversive agendas because they cannot pick holes in it.
Therefore, they resort to character assassination and intimidation so that potential new readers stay away from me. This has had a very adverse impact on my following and my reputation, especially among today’s youth who are not necessarily familiar with my past track record and learn everything from social media rather than serious reading. Apart from this, it has also impacted my health adversely.
Risks to My Life & Liberty from Cyber Terrorism: Several well-wishers have warned me that my life is under threat because those who are being instigated to see me as an enemy of Islam. It is well known that Muslims believe in carrying out “सरधड़सेअलग” mandate of their mazhab for dealing with anyone who does not surrender before their dictates. They are brazen enough to give a call to beat me up, lynch me publicly, as is obvious in some of the tweets quoted above.
Some are threatening to fix me for life after the 2024 elections, as is happening in Bengal.
Openly calling for me to be ‘Publicly Beaten’ (Mob Lynching) Amounts to Cyber Terrorism. Therefore, they need to be booked under the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000 also. As Advocate @AdvVikramSingh put it:
Be it Baloch activist #KarimaBalochk. In Canada, #SabeenMahmudor Pak journo #SajidHussaink. In Sweden, or the deaths of apostates/rational humans who argue on logic, there’s one thing in common-their opponents wanted to SILENCE THEM & BULLY EVERYONE. This is akin to Taliban.
Point to Note: I happen to be living near Shaheen Bagh which is infested with extremist Muslims. With such a ferocious hate campaign unleashed against me, I can be easily targeted for slaughter like Kamlesh Tiwari.
Criminal Conspiracy Behind It: Calling for/instigating/abetting people to mass report an individual's personal account is no less than a criminal conspiracy under the relevant provisions of IPC. Targeted cyber bullying, harassment also attracts the charge of “criminal intimidation”. Even a cursory review of their tweets and writing on other social media platforms will confirm that they all belong to the #BreakUpIndiaGang. And I hurt them because mine is a strong voice in defence of India. I strongly suspect that they are acting at the behest of Pakistani agencies and urge you to investigate these links.
Such vicious attacks on a person who is widely respected as a ‘voice of reason’ are actually an attack on India’s integrity and sovereignty. They went for me even during the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA agitation. If their obnoxious activities are allowed unhindered, they will succeed in subverting the fundamental rights of people to express their views openly and deter rational, logical and honest citizens to stand in solidarity with patriotic voices.
As per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, recently notified by the Central Government, the content as posted by these hate mongers against me shall also be communicated to Twitter.com
My Prayer: Given the seriousness of the offences, I request you to kindly investigate the matter and take suitable action against the concerned offenders and protect me from potential harm and further intimidation. The offences mentioned in this complaint amount to cognisable offences under the Indian law.
Thus far, whenever I have reported an abusive tweet to you by some hateful Twitter handle, you have taken no action. But you have acted against me multiple times without justification under pressure of malicious mass reporting. I am not the kind who threatens or abuses anyone. And yet I face punitive action, not those who are actually harming people by tarnishing their hard-won reputation. Such partisan conduct does not go well with an internationally-reputed public platform. I sincerely hope, you will handle this threat to my safety and security as well as to my fundamental rights as a citizen of India with the seriousness it deserves.