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Never had a Twitter account, conspiracy against me: JNU V-C

The handle, which had tweets calling Jamia Millia Islamia and St Stephen’s College “communal campuses”, used slurs for Indian Christians and described civil rights activists as “mentally-ill jihadists”, was deleted following the uproar on Monday.

Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit will hold charge for 5 years.

A day after the controversy over tweets from an unverified Twitter handle in her name (@SantishreeD), newly appointed Vice-Chancellor (V-C) of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit said on Tuesday that she “never had” a Twitter account.

The handle, which had tweets calling Jamia Millia Islamia and St Stephen’s College “communal campuses”, used slurs for Indian Christians and described civil rights activists as “mentally-ill jihadists”, was deleted following the uproar on Monday.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Tuesday, Pandit said: “I didn’t have a Twitter account… It has been found out that it has been hacked and somebody internally from JNU has done this. The point is, many people are unhappy that I am the first woman V-C.” She said she had found out from reliable sources about the alleged involvement of people from JNU.

Asked if the Twitter account never belonged to her, she replied: “Never. I never had. My daughter is a cyber-security engineer. Six years ago, she closed it for me because she was applying for some jobs in the US and she told me, ‘Mom, you are not going to be on any social media sites’. I’m not at all active on social media.”

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“It came to my notice only when these pictures came out. Because I’m not on Twitter, so unless I’m on Twitter, how will I know that an account is there,” she said. Asked if nobody informed her, she said, “Nobody told me… In this world everybody is a conspirator.”

Alleging a “tirade” against her, she said: “Why am I being treated so badly and shabbily by the press? What sin have I done? Just because Prime Minister Narendra Modi beat the Left in breaking a glass ceiling, which the Left did not do.”

Asked if she was referring to her appointment as the V-C, she said: “Yes I’m a woman from the marginalised section and from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Why did the Left not do it all these years? Seventy years they were in power. They couldn’t get to JNU? It is their adda (hub).”

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She alleged that she was being attacked as she focussed on the “Indian perspective”. “The Cholas, Marathas, Vijaynagar empire, Cheras, Pandyas – where are they? How much percentage is written in history? See history is agenda setting. I don’t blame them for it; I don’t want to go into it. So if they can set an agenda, what is wrong in correcting history? I am a South Indian; I think Rajendra Chola is the greatest emperor India has had. He conquered the Indo-Pacific, contained the Chinese. Why is he not mentioned? If I ask such questions, I become the enemy,” she said.

On the Savitribai Phule Pune University’s vigilance report to the ministry, stating that she had faced action after an inquiry found her guilty of not following rules while granting admission to PIO (Persons of India Origin) students, she said: “Where is my side of the story? Is there even one FIR against me? Show me in which police station you have (an FIR registered). Pune University played identity politics because I was a non-Maharashtrian who won the Management Council elections. Then it was a conspiracy to see that I don’t get any post. If really there was a case, why did the university not file an FIR against me?”

She said this was done to “harass” her because they didn’t want her to become V-C. “I won the Management Council elections from the Right and I was the only one from the Right from 2001,” she said.

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On the criticism from BJP MP Varun Gandhi over grammatical errors in her press release, Pandit said: “I dictated… the lady from the previous V-C took it in shorthand and the PRO said she will correct it and put it up. How much can you monitor? I still don’t have a team. Today I told the office staff that if you don’t know English, you should have told me you don’t know English. But nobody says they don’t know. I sat, retyped and rewrote it myself today and uploaded it on the university website.”

Speaking about her style of functioning, she said she was for “a democratic process”. “I’m a student of this university; it’s my alma mater. It’s like my mother. What I am today is because of JNU. Can’t different ideologies exist? They can… we agree to disagree,” she said.

First published on: 09-02-2022 at 01:09:36 am
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