The newly-appointed vice chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, claimed on Tuesday that she never had a Twitter account after old tweets shared from an unverified handle in her name caused widespread outrage on social media, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Union education ministry had appointed Pandit to the post on Monday, after which old tweets from the handle @SantishreeD came to light. Some of the tweets seemed to condone the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and made disparaging remarks about Christians and Muslims.
Shortly thereafter, the Twitter account was deactivated.
Pandit on Tuesday distanced herself from the controversial Twitter account. “It has been found out that it has been hacked and somebody internally from JNU has done this,” she told The Indian Express. “The point is, many people are unhappy that I am the first woman V-C.”
It is not clear why Pandit believed the Twitter account was hacked when she claimed she had never been on the microblogging site.
Pandit also told The Indian Express that her daughter, a cyber-security engineer, had closed her account six years ago as she was applying for “some jobs” in the United States.
NDTV journalist Gargi Rawat posted a screenshot of a tweet purportedly showing a photo of Pandit’s mother and questioned how the account tweeted “this very personal picture”.
The vice chancellor claimed that she only found out about the account when photos of the tweets were shared. “In this world everybody is a conspirator,” she remarked.
Pandit said that she was being treated badly by the media just because Prime Minister Narendra Modi “beat the Left in breaking a glass ceiling”, referring to her being appointed as the first woman vice chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“I’m a woman from the marginalised section and from the southern state of Tamil Nadu,” she said, according to The Indian Express. “Why did the Left not do it all these years? Seventy years they were in power. They couldn’t get to JNU? It is their adda [hub].”
On Monday, fact checker Mohammed Zubair of AltNews posted several screenshots of old tweets by the account. One of the tweets said that Muslims belonging to the Sunni sect of Islam were “radical”, while another tweet used the phrase “mentally ill Jihadists”.
Another tweet posted in May last year, in an apparent reference to farmer leaders Yogendra Yadav and Rakesh Tikait, described them as “parasitic middlemen” and “liars and losers”.
In a tweet about Gandhi’s killing, the user claimed that his assassin Nathuram Godse had “thought action was important and identified the solution for a united India...”