A Facebook group called “Clean the Nation”, whose stated aim was to “clean and weed out anti-nationals”, was given an award for social media journalism given by an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh last week. The group came to public attention after Scroll.in reported about it in February.
The group was started two days after the terror attack in Pulwama in February. It was repeatedly taken down by Facebook, but its Twitter handle @CleanTheNation1 now has over 7,750 followers.
“We gave the award to them because we saw how much this group loves the nation,” Vagish Issar, secretary of RSS-affiliate Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, told The Indian Express. “Many people love the nation, but some people love it actively.”
The outfit presented the Social Media Patrakarita Narad Samman (literally “Social Media Journalism Narada Honour”) at India International Centre in New Delhi on Saturday in the presence of RSS joint general secretary Manmohan Vaidya and Union minister Smriti Irani. According to Hindu mythology, Narada was a Vedic sage known for disseminating news orally.
In February, Scroll.in had reported that within two days of its existence, the group claimed to have successfully targeted more than 50 people by filing complaints about their anti-government social media posts and eliciting a range of official actions.
Among the group’s administrators was Ankit Jain, who is followed on Twitter by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Another administrator, Ashutosh Vashishtha, wrote in a Facebook post: “The main reason for starting Clean the Nation was precisely for cleaning and weeding out anti-nationals who wear the tag of Indian but leave no stones unturned to insult and mock their own people, culture and the army that is one of the best in the world.”
The group’s ‘achievements’
Core members of the group claimed that their activities had led to “roughly 45 actions” against “anti-Indians”, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. The actions were based on complaints by members, some of whom approached police to file cases, or complained to the employers or colleges of alleged offenders.
Clean the Nation’s initial targets included a professor in Guwahati against whom the police filed two cases, even as she went missing after being threatened with rape and murder. In Rajasthan, four Kashmiri students who found themselves in trouble because of the group’s action were suspended by their college. A college in Dehradun promised to file a case against a former student who is Kashmiri after the group sent several emails to the institution.
An MBA student was suspended by a college in Greater Noida for a Facebook post, but within days, the local police station had found that the student was “not involved in any kind of supervised criminal activity”. However, the student has not returned to college since and has missed his examination, the college authorities told The Indian Express.
The Guwahati professor who was suspended by her institute and booked by police has yet to hear from the college on her status. A Jaipur man arrested for a post after India’s airstrikes against Pakistan is out on bail and told the newspaper that police were yet to conclude the inquiry.
No offence was made out against four Kashmiri female students who were suspended by their university in Jaipur for an “anti-national” post after the Pulwama attack, police said. None of the four were arrested at any point. The university, too, revoked its suspension order.