Twitter has suspended Lok Sabha TV anchor Jagrati Shukla’s account for her controversial tweets on Thursday wishing “real bullets instead of pellets” for Kashmiri civilians with pellet gun injuries, but her employer has not initiated any action against her.
Senior officials at the channel said it’s investigating the matter. One of them told ET that Shukla’s views were “personal in nature”. The channel’s CEO Ashish Joshi said he will look into the issue once it is officially raised.
“We will take action if required,” he said. “That apart, we have asked all our employees to put up their most responsible behaviour on social media.”
A Lok Sabha TV official said service rules of its employees don’t apply to their social media behaviour and the absence of a criminal complaint also makes it difficult to remove employees who fault on social media.
The channel is operated by Lok Sabha Secretariat under the patronage of speaker Sumitra Mahajan. It’s owned by Parliament of India.
Lok Sabha Secretariat officials Kalpana Sharma and Ganpati Bhat, who handle affairs of LSTV as per its website, declined comment, saying they were unaware of the issue.
Shukla, an assistant producer at the channel, had on Wednesday retweeted photos of civilians from Kashmir valley, saying she “preferred real bullets instead of pellets”. While Twitter suspended her account hours after her tweet kicked up a storm, the social media platform was soon filled with her controversial tweets on the Sikh genocide to former Indian vice president Hamid Ansari whom she had once called “a sophisticated Jihad apologist”.
When contacted, Shukla said she stood by her tweet and that the suspension of her Twitter account “was a result of mass reporting by a politically motivated group”.
“My recent Tweet was pretty innocuous and didn’t contain any reference to a specific community. We lose soldiers and tourists to these murderous mobs all the times; why aren’t we talking about their human rights and right to self-defence?” she told ET. “The hashtag in my support has crossed 120k Tweets and trended at No. 1 all over India on Twitter for over 16 hours. It’s not a paid trend and I’m not a politician, so the quantum of support I’ve received is testimony to what the public opinion is,” Shukla said.
A senior LSTV official said the channel had asked Shukla to give clarification after it received a complaint about her tweet on Sikh genocide.
“Some other complaints that came to us were from a time she was not employed by us,” the person said. “We have employed her only after proper police verification processes.”
Many people, however, questioned the parliamentary channel’s decision to hire Shukla in May this year when her “bigoted thoughts” were already clear.
Shukla’s divisive tweet on Kashmir civilians comes at a time when government authorities, particularly home minister Rajnath Singh and Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, have been stressing on “killing militancy, not militants” in the valley, and trying to reach out to Kashmiri youth through dialogue and other initiatives.
Yet, hours after her twitter account was suspended on Thursday, Shukla took to Facebook to reiterate that she stands by her tweet and firmly believes “that all jihadis need to be shot with bullets”.
Shukla, with a following of over 50,700 followers on Twitter, has in the past worked with JK 24*7 News, News 18 (Madhya Pradesh), Zee Hindustan and K- News.
Her account was earlier suspended by Twitter briefly for allegedly instigating violence against the Muslim community. In the past, she had also celebrated the killing of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh and asked those desiring a revolution and mourning her murder, “How does it feel to be on the receiving end?”
When contacted by ET, a Twitter spokesperson said the company does not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons. “However, as per the Twitter rules on violence and physical harm, users may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people.”