New Delhi: Feminist academic and known Narendra Modi supporter Madhu Kishwar on Thursday night attributed Muslim-sounding names to at least five purported attackers of a Gurgaon school bus during Wednesday’s anti- Padmaavat violence, saying this “speaks volumes”.
She recanted and apologised after Gurgaon police clarified on Friday morning that none of the 18 arrested suspects were Muslims, but suggested that those who had condemned her “mistake” owed her an apology too.
“The names of the 5 people arrested for stone pelting a children’s school bus in the name of Karni Sena protesting against Bhansali’s movie are Saddam, Aamir, Feroze, Nadeem and Ashraf,” Kishwar had tweeted around midnight.
“If above news is true then it speaks volumes,” she added in capital letters. “No more need be said.”
A mob had stoned a G.D. Goenka World School bus while chanting slogans hailing the Rajput body Karni Sena. The frightened children had crawled under the seats.
Kishwar’s tweet sparked a social media backlash. ABP News commissioning editor Kanchan Gupta shared Gurgaon police’s tweeted clarification and posted: “Those who are spreading this lie on social media are actually supporting the murderous attack…. Your conscience is dead. Go cremate it.”
Kishwar, who remained unreachable on mobile and did not answer emails, deleted her tweet in the evening, say media reports.
Earlier in the afternoon, she had tweeted: “People I cherish most are those who stop me from making mistakes. ThankU @KanchanGupta for calling to say my tweet regarding Haryana arrests based on wrong info fed to me by otherwise reliable SM (social media) friends.”
She added: “Been in Chennai & missed out on news updates due to hectic schedule. My unconditional apology for misleading tweet. Big lesson for future. Will be far more careful henceforth.”
But she castigated her critics in another tweet: “I’m amazed how quickly the knives are out to stab me for a lapse that I’ve unconditionally apologised for. Haven’t seen any apology from those who even today keep calling Modi a mass murderer despite clearance from… bench of the Supreme Court.”
Online fact-checking website AltNews traced the rumour Kishwar had relayed to a Facebook post on Thursday by Shalini Kapoor, who describes herself as a “regional in-charge” of the BJP’s youth wing in Kanpur. Her profile has a picture of hers with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Her post was shared by three tweeters – Jay @Saffron_Rocks, Jitendra Pratap Singh @jpsin1 and Kunwar Ajaypratap Singh @sengarajay235 – who are all followed by Modi on Twitter.
Twitter user @BrumbyOz shared several past tweets by Kishwar. One of these last year said: “Shehla Rashid was planted from Kashmir to JNU by her political patrons with the sole purpose of setting up Islamist networks in north India.”
Shehla, a former JNU students’ union vice-president, had successfully led a campaign for the release of three students arrested on sedition charges in 2016.
Kishwar has been a member of the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s academic council since 2017. “The kind of bigotry and hate she spews online is unbecoming of a member of JNU’s prestigious academic council,” Shehla said.
Kishwar was nominated to the council by vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar to represent the School of Arts and Aesthetics although she was not among the six candidates short-listed by the school. Her inclusion was a deviation from convention that was objected to by some teachers.
The 18 arrested in connection with the bus attack include eight minors. They are accused also of torching another bus and throwing firebombs at cops in Rajput-dominated Bhondsi, 20km from Gurgaon.
They have been charged with attempt to murder, rioting, destruction of public property and obstructing public servants.