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Handle bearing new JNU V-C’s name deleted after old tweets slamming students, backing BJP emerge

Unverified account, which carried Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit’s name, made references to Sharjeel Imam and Nathuram Godse, among others. No confirmation on whether it was her own.

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New Delhi: Soon after the Union Ministry of Education announced the appointment of Professor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit as new vice-chancellor (V-C) of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), old tweets criticising JNU students and supporting the BJP government, purportedly posted by a Twitter account carrying her name, were shared widely on social media. 

While one of the tweets refers to PhD scholar from JNU Sharjeel Imam, who is currently in jail in connection with a sedition case, as a “jihadi produced by IIT-B and JNU”, another calls JNU students “losers”, while another expresses opposition to the farmers’ movement. There were also personal tweets like one allegedly carrying a photograph of Pandit’s mother. 

It was not immediately clear whether the account belonged to Pandit. The tweets were posted from an unverified handle @SantishreeD, which had her full name, but carried a photo of a goddess as the display picture, not her own. There have been no tweets from the account since May 2021. Hours after they went viral Monday, the account was deleted, but screenshots are still doing the rounds on social media. 

ThePrint sought a comment from Pandit through calls and messages, but did not receive a response till the time this report was published. It also approached Nitin Karmalkar, V-C of Savitribai Phule Pune University, where Pandit is a professor, but did not get a response. This report will be updated if their responses are received.


Also Read: This is what JNU students will study in new, controversial ‘counter-terrorism’ course


References to JNU, farm stir, Godse

An independent examination of the Twitter account undertaken by ThePrint showed regular interactions with pro-BJP and pro-RSS handles, and criticism of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Congress, and Left-leaning intellectuals. 

One of the tweets, posted in 2020, referred to JNU students as “losers who have lost control” and called for a ban on funding to institutions like “Jamia and St. Stephen’s”. 

In response to a tweet by author Shefali Vaidya in 2021, where she shared a statement by farm leader Rakesh Tikait and tweeted, “He will commit suicide if the farm laws are no rescinded”, the Twitter handle with Pandit’s name posted: “I will give him a rope to hang”.

Many Twitter users have shared old tweets made from the handle @SantishreeD in support of the BJP and its IT cell head Amit Malviya.

Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair also shared screenshots of old tweets posted from this account in 2015 that referred to Sunni Islam as “radical”. 

He also shared a screenshot of a tweet, posted by the same account, in support of Nathuram Godse, who had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. “I would agree both Gandhi and Godse, both read Gita and believed and took opposite lessons. Godse thought action was important and identified the solution for a United India in the assassination of one person Mahatma Gandhi. Sad (sic),” it said. 

Another tweet going viral on social media said: “If BJP is party of Godse then all parties that support Muslims like TMC is a party of all terrorists, invaders who raped and destroyed Hindu sacred spaces. They support the butchers of Bengal.” 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)


Also Read: ‘Promoting victim blaming’ — student bodies hit out at JNU panel’s notice on sexual harassment


 

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