Debate over the issue of racism has spread across the nation after the recently reported murder of Congolese student Masonda Kitanda Olivier in Delhi. Even as concern over rising reports of racism attacks is growing, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has shocked everyone with her latest tweet in which she denied that the Congolese student’s murder was related to racism. If that wasn’t enough, she also tweeted appealing all Indians to shake hands with every African citizen they meet and tell them that India loves them. Also Read - Twitter Bug Bounty Contest to offer $3500 cash prize for detecting algorithm bias
While Swaraj was criticized for her tweets, she also started getting trolled on Twitter soon after she put her post on Thursday morning. The hashtag #sushmaswaraj soon started trending with the Twitteratti trolling the minister’s tweet with witty comments. Also Read - Twitter Voice Tweets rolling out for iOS: What are they, how to send
In her further tweets, Swaraj also refused to identify the attack as an incidence of racial discrimination and said that India can “never have a racist mindset.” She said that the incident involved local goons and had nothing to do with discrimination.
Here’s what Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter.
I appeal to fellow Indians. Next time you meet an African citizen, pl shake hand and say ‘India loves you’.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 2, 2016
I would like to assure African students in India that this an unfortunate and painful incident involving local goons.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 25, 2016
And here’s how the Twitterati responded.
— Penda Kung Fu (@yudhajit) June 2, 2016
.@SushmaSwaraj Please also appeal to Delhiites that next time they see a Northeastern person, say, “Delhi loves you”.
— Mr. Tippler (@MrTippler) June 2, 2016
.@SushmaSwaraj African citizen? Africa is not a country
— Sulabh Varshney (@sulabh_varshney) June 2, 2016
@SushmaSwaraj sure madam, also do appeal to fellow bhakts: next time you meet a Muslim or a Dalit, pl shake hand and say ‘India loves you’.
— pravin mishra (@mishra_pravin) June 2, 2016
Besides Sushma Swaraj, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma had tried to play down the incident, and made an even more shocking comment that “even Africa is not safe.” “India is a large country and such incidents will give a bad name to India. It is an unfortunate incident. However, even Africa is not safe. Such incidents happen in other parts of the world too,” he had said on the murder of the Congolese student.
This is not the first time when the government has tried to turn down allegations about racism related crimes. Earlier this year, a Tanzanian girl was allegedly stripped in Bengaluru. But MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup had described it as “isolated incident” whereas a Karnataka minister G Parameshwara described it as a road rage-related incident.