Despite support from the Twitterati world that has sent him numerous tweets asking not to apologise, Qaiser Ali, who grabbed headlines for saving the Prime Minister of India’s official Twitter handle @PMOIndia as his own, is still fearful that “the police might come home and pick me up”.
On May 20, for about half an hour, Ali owned the official Twitter handle of the PM of India without realising the furore it would cause in social media. “I felt my Twitter username was long, so I set out to change it. It suddenly struck me to check if the @PMOIndia handle was available. When I found it was, I saved it,” said the 19-year-old from Lucknow.
It all happened when the outgoing UPA government at the Centre, which had started and handled the @PMOIndia account on Twitter, refused to hand it over to the BJP, the incoming government. This led to a spat between the two parties, with the BJP terming the Twitter account as a “national digital asset,” saying the handle should have continued “seamlessly.”
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The Congress went on to archive the tweets under a new username, @PMOIndiaArchive, effectively taking away the 1.2 million followers with it. This also meant that PM-designate Narendra Modi’s IT team would have access to the official account but it would have to start from scratch.
Amid all this, Ali managed to lay his hands on the handle. And for half an hour, he stole the scene but soon found himself in a situation where demands for “an apology to the nation” started pouring in, as did support from the Twitter world, which told him not to be apologetic as he didn’t do anything wrong.
“People have been telling me I didn’t do anything wrong but my parents scolded me, which is why I feel I must have done something wrong,” Ali said. He has since apologised several times to all those concerned.
“I had apologised even before they asked me to apologise to the nation,” he added.
Much to his relief though, the handle automatically reverted to the old one within half an hour.
“I am just 19 years old and this is a government matter. This might lead to problems in the future,” he said, indicating his fear that the police might still pick him up.
Ali, who passed Class XII from Lucknow’s City Montessori School last year, considers himself an entrepreneur. Some time before his exams, he launched a social networking website, Picxter.
He said he is currently working on an application that will release this August and has also conceptualised a wearable computer contraption which can fit in a pocket.
“I learned all of it online; I want to be an entrepreneur,” says Ali, who has applied for engineering courses in Hyderabad and Bangalore.