A DAY after Delhi Police arrested a man for allegedly offering a bounty on JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, a BJP worker in Gujarat suggested that the protesting students and their teachers should be shot to “close the chapter”.
Sanjay Rathod, IT cell convener of BJP’s Junagadh unit, posted on his Twitter handle Tuesday: “Shoot Anti National JNU students & Proff and close the chapter. But the problem is that Our Govt doesn’t allow to kill Dogs #WakeUpIndia”.
At 3.30 am, two minutes before his “shoot” suggestion, Rathod, 35, posted, “#Wake-UpIndia or it will be too late. There are big forces who want to break India. They are funding #antinationals & paid media.”
In yet another tweet in Hindi, he wrote, “Kal se jo 10 aatankwadi Gujarat mein ghuse hain, unme se kaun kiska beta, beti, bahu hai, yeh abhi se tay kar lein, baad mein Ishrat Jahan ki tarah lafda nahin chahiye. (Decide son, daughter, daughter-in-law among the 10 terrorists who infiltrated Gujarat yesterday. Don’t want an affair like Ishrat Jahan later.)”
Confirming that the Twitter handle in question — @Sanjay-Vis — is his account and that he stood by his posts, Rathod told The Indian Express, “As a BJP member, I am supposed to express my opinion and counter views opposed to my party. I am also supposed to support those supporting our line of thinking.”
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Rathod’s Twitter account has more than 1.19 lakh followers, including Gujarat’s Minister of State for Science and Technology, Govind Patel. His profile identifies him as a “social media expert, director Gujarati TV, IT cell convener of Junagadh BJP and a member of state working committee of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). He works as a public relations consultant with an agency in Rajkot.
His homepage has two photographs of him with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In one photograph, Modi is seen handing over a certificate to Rathod. He was felicitated by the state government in August 2012 for “creating the largest Facebook group in India, having more than 16 lakh members”. He had also conducted a poll on the site, which won the largest number of votes in favour of Modi.
Rathod has studied till Class XII, and although his tweets appear in English and Hindi, he says he is not fluent in either language. “I don’t know much English. A couple of other persons also operate the Twitter account on my behalf. The tweet (about JNU) has been posted by one of them. But I stand by it,” Rathod said. Speaking with The Indian Express, he offered to delete the tweets “if it had hurt anybody’s sentiment”.
The tweets were found deleted a few minutes later.
Kanu Bhalala, president of Junagadh district unit of BJP, confirmed that Rathod was convener of IT cell, but added that he was “not active of late”.
Kanhaiya and a few other JNU students were booked by Delhi Police for sedition after they allegedly raised “anti-India” slogans last month. While Kanhaiya is out on bail, two others, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, are in judicial custody. Opposition parties have opposed the police action.