Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday sought to clarify his tweet calling for the destruction of those with “seeds of anti-national thought”. Vij said that he wanted eradication of such a thought process and not the people nurturing it, NDTV reported.
Vij’s was commenting on the arrest of 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi in connection with the campaign document tweeted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg to support the farmers’ protest against the agricultural laws. “Those with the seeds of anti-national thought must be fully destroyed, whether Disha Ravi or anyone else,” he tweeted on Monday.
Defending his tweet on Tuesday, Vij said, “I didn’t call for the destruction of those people...I called for the destruction of the thought process which is against the nation. We just want to purify thoughts...I talked about the destruction of seeds sown to harbour such thought process.”
Vij’s remarks had triggered massive outrage. A Bengaluru-based group called Campaign Against Hate Speech has filed a police complaint against him.
The minister said that he will respond to the complaint but shrugged off criticism. “These people [a reference to the group] are educated from English schools,” Vij was quoted as saying by NDTV. “They don’t understand Hindi.”
Twitter also received a complaint about Vij’s tweet from Germany but found that it was not subject to removal. Vij pointed this out and said that there was nothing wrong with this comments.
The minister said that everyone had the right to dissent in a democracy, but “conspiracy” with foreigners must be stopped. He called for thorough investigation in the farmers’ protest document case. “There are other kinds of links that are also emerging in Disha Ravi’s case,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “Such links should be dug up about all those people who are organising people against the nation and are conspiring with foreigners.”
On February 13, the police picked up Ravi from Bengaluru for her alleged role in editing and spreading the farm protest “toolkit” – a common term used by social activists for campaign material. A day later, she was brought to Delhi, where she was formally arrested and sent to police custody for five days. The Delhi Police have also issued non-bailable arrest warrants against activist Shantanu Muluk and Mumbai advocate Nikita Jacob in the case. But both of them have been granted transit bail by the Bombay High Court.