Thursday, December 20, 2018

I Am A Troll - Swati Chaturvedi

Swati Chaturvedi is a journalist. She has been at the receiving end of trolling by trolls who react to anything she may say against the BJP government or the nation. Trolling is extensively abusive and completely aimed at making the targets cringe and run away - hinting at sexual relations, describing sexual acts etc. Swati filed an FIR against one particular troll. Then she went ahead and found out more about these nationalistic trolls.

The first chapter makes things pretty clear. 'Blessed to be followed by PM Modi'. There are 26 accounts that regularly sexually harass, make death threats, abuse politicians from other parties, journalists and single out women, minorities and dalits. PM Modi follows them, has not responded to questions as to why he follows them, and goes one step ahead and invites 150 of the trolls for a digital sampark at his residence. The 150 yodhas were chosen by the BJP IT Cell Coordinator Arvind Gupta. When one of the troll twitter accounts was suspended, Minister Giriraj Singh led a campaign to reactivate it. Attacking journalists online, posting communal statements and images and videos are part of the agenda.

Swati examines the BJP connection and actually interviews a troll, Sadhavi Khosla, who was a die hard Modi fan and who joined the IT cell. She left it disillusioned by the hate against anyone perceived to be anti Modi. Khosla incidentally got a series of chain mails giving misleading information about the Gandhi family. She was disillusioned to see PM Modi sending birthday greetings to abusive trolls whom he follows and not taking up the drug menace in Punjab about which she tweeted and tagged him. When the trolls went after Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan and even made Snapdeal sever ties with Aamir who was their brand ambassador, it was the last straw for her. Khosla believes that the campaign that targeted Aamir had the blessings of Amit Shah and Modi.

Swati then interviews three trolls in anonymous interviews and they reveal how they work.

All in all what's been already written in these couple of paragraphs is enough to make a lot of people thinking. Why is the PM following and inviting abusive trolls to meet and greet at his home? The book is pretty thin and gives a glimpse at best into this world. But given the situation, it's pretty brave.

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