New Delhi: Facing online abuse over a passport row involving an interfaith couple, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj conducted a poll on Twitter asking users whether they "approve" such trolling to which 57 per cent respondents said they oppose it.
The minister's husband, Swaraj Kaushal, in an emotional response to a troll, on Sunday said the Twitter user's harsh words had caused "unbearable pain" to his family.
In the poll, which was conducted for 24 hours after Swaraj initiated it last night, 1,24,305 Twitter users took part, with 57 per cent respondents backing her, while 43 per cent supporting the trolls.
After the poll, Swaraj tweeted, "In a democracy difference of opinion is but natural. Pls do criticise but not in foul language. Criticism in decent language is always more effective." She also tweeted a few lines by Hindi poet Neeraj to emphasise her point.
After days of trolling, matters came to a head yesterday when Kaushal tweeted a screenshot of the post by the Twitter user who asked him to “beat her up and teach her not to do Muslim appeasement”.
Swaraj, who has been retweeting some of the offensive tweets directed at her over the transfer of Passport Seva Kendra official Vikas Mishra in Lucknow for allegedly humiliating the interfaith couple, began the Twitter poll asking people whether such trolling was fine.
"Friends : I have liked some tweets. This is happening for the last few days. Do you approve of such tweets? Please RT," she tweeted.
Swaraj's husband responded to the person who had accused Swaraj of appeasing Muslims, saying, "Your words have given us unbearable pain. Just to share with you, my mother died of cancer in 1993. Sushma was an MP and a former Education Minister. She lived in the hospital for a year.
"She refused to engage a medical attendant and attended on my dying mother personally," Kaushal tweeted.
"Such was her devotion to the family. As per my father's wish, she lit my father's pyre. We adore her. Please do not use such words for her. We are first generation in law and politics. We pray for nothing more than her life. Pls convey my profound regards to your wife," the eminent lawyer said in his message to the person who had targeted Swaraj in his tweet.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti also said she was horrified by the "vicious" trolling of Swaraj on social media and described it as outrageous.
Swaraj had earlier retweeted some of the tweets of that person.
This came just days after Swaraj was trolled and abused on Twitter over the controversy involving the issuance of passport to the interfaith couple.
Mishra was transferred from Lucknow to Gorakhpur after the couple alleged that he humiliated them when they went to the office with their passport applications.
According to the couple, Mishra asked the husband to convert to Hinduism and pulled up the wife for marrying a Muslim.
Mishra had said in his defence that he was secular and had told the woman that her 'nikahnama' showed her name as Shazia Anas, which should be endorsed in her file.
A section of social media had attacked Swaraj and the ministry for taking action against Mishra, claiming that he was just doing his duty.
The minister had taken it on the chin and retweeted some of the tweets that were even abusive and communal in nature.
Asked whether the Ministry of External Affairs is contemplating any action against trolls, Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said last week that, "The EAM (External Affairs Minister) has responded to those malicious tweets and the trolling which she was subjected to in her own way and in a manner which she deemed fit. I don't think I have anything further to add on that."