The controversy following anti-national slogans being allegedly raised on JNU campus on February 9 has triggered a spate of threats to individuals over phone, email and social media.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Rajya Sabha member and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and family members of JNU student Umar Khalid are among those who have complained about receiving threats warning them of dire consequences.
On February 20, Kejriwal’s office complained to Delhi Police about a death threat he received over email. The email, sent on February 19, stated weapons were being procured to target him, said sources.
A day earlier, Delhi tourism minister Kapil Mishra had said he received a death threat on phone from a person who identified himself as “Pujari”. He said the caller asked him to “shut his mouth” on the JNU issue. Mishra claimed the caller told him, “Apni jubaan band rakho varna goli maar denge (Keep your mouth shut or else you will be shot).” Mishra wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the threat.
Yechury, who took on HRD minister Smriti Irani in Rajya Sabha last week for reading out “derogatory” references to Goddess Durga from a poster purportedly circulated by JNU students on “Mahishasura Martyrdom Day”, said he received several calls and messages after his speech.
Without naming anyone, Yechury said he received threats for saying “wrong things” about Goddess Durga. Yechury said he would submit the numbers to Delhi Police. On February 15, Yechury had claimed to have first received a threat on the CPM office landline.
According to sources, complaints have also been made over Yechury’s phone number being circulated on Facebook with offensive posts in Malayalam. Yechury has maintained he made no reference to Goddess Durga in his speech, and that this appeared to be a “deliberate campaign”.
On February 20, Dr Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, father of JNU student Khalid, who is charged with sedition, lodged a complaint with Delhi Police, claiming he received a phone call “threatening to kill” his son if he did not leave the country. According to his complaint, the caller identified himself as gangster Ravi Pujari.
Khalid’s sisters have said they received rape and acid attack threats on their social media accounts after they posted their comments in response to TV debates he had participated in over the February 9 event in JNU. However, they did not lodge complaints with the police.
Threats have also been reported from West Bengal and Kerala. Triparna Dey Sarkar, a PG student of Jadavpur University, approached the police on February 18, alleging she was threatened she would be “set on fire” and “hanged” in reaction to posts on Facebook, and dubbed a “traitor-feminist”.
On February 28, journalist Sindhu Suryakumar, chief coordinating editor, Asianet News, lodged a complaint with the police in Thiruvananthapuram after she received death threats over phone from anonymous callers. The callers accused Suryakumar of making “derogatory” remarks against Goddess Durga during a television news programme.
Delhi Police are looking into complaints and trying to trace the numbers, said a senior officer. “We are taking help of a specialised unit of Delhi Police.”