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FIR against anonymous Twitter handle for “sexist” comments

June,11,2015: Continuous harassment by an anonymous Twitter handle has pushed a media professional to file a police complaint against the operator of the popular account — @LutyensInsider.

Swati Chaturvedi
Swati Chaturvedi

Journalist Swati Chaturvedi lodged a complaint at the Vasant Vihar police station on Wednesday, after having had enough of the “sexist” comments made by the Twitter account, which has over 40,000 followers.

After Ms. Chaturvedi tweeted about filing the FIR, @LutyensInsider changed its handle to @gregoryzackim and deleted all tweets. The only proof that it was the same account was the 40.8k followers.

Ms. Chaturvedi tweeted late on Wednesday night that the police had cracked the identity of the account operator.

In her complaint, she had told police: “After the repeal of Section-66 A, an anonymous Twitter handle — @LutyensInsider has been posting defamatory and sexually explicit tweets about me and [Congress Vice-President] Rahul Gandhi.”

On February 26, the account had threatened to reveal the name of the journalist, which was revealed on March 24 by tagging Ms. Chaturvedi’s handle — @bainjal.

“We have registered a case of stalking under Section 354 (D) of the Indian Penal Code. Further investigations are underway,” said a police officer.

Later, Ms. Chaturvedi added: “I will not be bullied off Twitter. Every time I express a strong opinion, this person abuses me. I’m prepared for the long haul, but I will not tolerate slander. My reputation is very important for me.”

Though online harassment is as old as the Internet itself, more women are speaking up against it.

Delhi Congress leader and spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee was trolled on Twitter on Tuesday after she commented on former Delhi Law Minister Jitender Tomar’s alleged fake academic degrees.

“We live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to their respective opinions. However, that doesn’t mean there should be lack of tolerance for other points of view or respect for people’s personal lives,” Ms. Mukherjee told The Hindu.

On her part, the President’s daughter said she had developed a deterrent that many trolls are finding increasingly difficult to confront — shaming them on the same medium.

“What I usually do is quote the person’s abusive tweet instead of responding to it directly. While most users end up apologising, there are others who actually up the abuse, but what can one do. There needs to be a sustained campaign, perhaps a public wall, where such abusers can be publicised in order to deter them,” she added.

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