New Delhi :
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who was on week-long visit to four European nations, is back in India and has handled the storm– which was brewing over first non-issuance and then issuance of passport to Shadia Anas/Tanvi Seth—in her own graceful but firm style.
Sushma Swaraj’s stand
Sushma retweeted some of the abusive tweets addressed to her by saying, “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.”
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
Following this Sushma Swaraj retweeted some of the most abusive and insensitive tweets addressed to her where the trolls had gone to the extent of commenting on her health and wellness.
One of the trolls by the name of Capt Sarbjit Dhillon had tweeted, “She is almost dead woman as she runs on only one kidney (borrowed from some one else ) and any time that can stop working .” Sushma retweeted this tweet without any comment.
She is almost dead woman as she runs on only one kidney (borrowed from some one else ) and any time that can stop working .
— Capt Sarbjit Dhillon (@dhillonsarbjit2) June 22, 2018
Another twitter user by the name of Indra Bajpai commented, “Biased decision #ISupportVikasMishra shame on you mam…is it effect of your islamic kidney??” Sushwa Swaraj also retweeted this abusive tweet.
Biased decision #ISupportVikasMishra shame on you mam…is it effect of your islamic kidney??
— Indra Bajpai (@bajpai_indra) June 22, 2018
Meanwhile, opposition grabbed this opportunity to find faults within the BJP. The Congress Party responded to Swaraj’s action by saying, “No matter what the situation or reason, nothing calls for threats of violence, disrespect and abuse. Sushma Swaraj ji, we applaud your decision to call out the heinous trolls of your own party.”
AAP leader Ashutosh also took this opportunity to attack BJP by saying, “The fault lines between the BJP is (sic) exposed. The vitriolic attack on social media by the troll army on Sushma Swaraj is well-orchestrated. Everyone knows who controls this army. This battle will be sharp as the 2019 elections get closer and the master of the army fears losing.”
The fault line between the BJP is exposed. The vitriolic attack on social media by the TROLL ARMY on @SushmaSwaraj is well orchestrated, every one knows who controls this army. This battle will be sharp as the 2019 elections get closer and master of the army fears losing.
— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) June 24, 2018
It all started
The issue started when Tanvi Seth/ Shadia Anas, a resident of Noida, took to twitter after failing to get her passport made from Lucknow. Tanvi tweeted to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj about the alleged mistreatment she and her husband Anas faced from an official, Vikas Mishra, at the Passport Sewa Kendra at Lucknow’s Ratan Square.
Tanvi Tweeted, “When I reached counter C5, the official, Vikas Mishra, told me there was an issue with my file since I had married a Muslim, and yet retained my maiden name. He shouted at me and insulted me in front of everyone and sent me to the office of an additional passport officer, who was sympathetic to me and asked me to reach the main branch in Gomtinagar on Thursday.”
Tanvi alleged all her documents were in order but her file was still stalled and his husband was also abused by the passport official. “He told Anas to convert to Hinduism for his passport to be renewed. This is a case of moral policing and religious prejudice. I was made to feel insulted; I broke down,” said Tanvi in a tweet addressed to Swaraj.
In a five-part tweet to the minister, and in an email to her, Tanvi alleged that she was also asked to “change her name as is the duty of all girls after marriage”. She also claimed that her husband Anas was asked to “convert to Hinduism and take pheras” if he wanted his passport renewed.
Following External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s intervention, barely 24 hours after a passport officer rejected her application on the grounds that she had not changed her surname, Tanvi got her passport.
Regional Passport Official Piyush Verma gave the passport to Tanvi Sethi while the passport of her husband Mohammad Anas Siddiqui was renewed and also handed over.
Vikas Mishra’s defense
However, a new twist to the tale came when an eyewitness posted a video and Vikas Mishra, who was transferred to Gorakhpur for his actions, defended himself claiming that Tanvi’s name as per nikahnama (Islamic marriage contract) was ‘Shadia Anas’, but she refused to get her name changed as per her nikahnama.
Mishra said that he only asked Tanvi to clarify whether she has ever changed her name. He said that there is a column in the application form which requires you to fill in this detail. He said that the couple could have gone to Ghaziabad passport office as they are residents of Noida but they came to Lucknow for passport. He said that the couple got agitated when he raised an objection.
To which Tanivi replied by saying, “Whatever he had to say or do could have been done in a polite and respectful way.” This was different from her earlier allegations.
Impact of Sushma Swaraj’s decision
After Mishra’s clarification External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been the facing criticism in social media platforms. They alleged that Swaraj was wrong to issue passport to Tanvi without checking the facts of the incident.
The extent of the incident was so huge that Swaraj’s facebook page’s rating went down from 4.3 (out of 5) star to 1.4 star in just a few hours.