In the wake of the Pulwama terror attack which left at least 40 CRPF personnel dead, the accusations of '`anti-nationalism' against prominent activists and journalist is back on spotlight, but with a higher intensity this time. On this pretext, the trolls and IT cells of Hindu- right wing political parties have started spamming and threatening journalists on social media sites in the name of nationalism.
In the latest, Professor Koushal Mishra, from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has been alleged to have circulated the phone number of prominent Hindi journalist Ravish Kumar. In addition, the professor has also revealed the numbers of Prashant Bhushan, a known lawyer and cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu. The revelation of numbers has invited trolls to threaten them. Ravish Kumar has alleged that he has been continuously receiving calls from unknown people who are threatening to kill him.
Koushal Mishra was formerly the Head of the Department (HoD) of Political Science in BHU and was in the news in 2014 on the charge of instigating Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers to attack Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Somnath Bharti.
When NewsClick talked to BHU students to understand the situation, they accused the professor of behaving unprofessional.
Political Backing Responsible for Professor’s Behaviour?
A student of professor Mishra from the political science department, on condition of anonymity, told NewsClick, "Koushal Mishra was our HoD earlier and he teaches ancient Indian History. From his lectures, it can be gathered that he is quite orthodox in terms of culture and traditions. He should not have posted someone’s number on public domain. He has political backup and he can become the Vice-Chancellor some day. He often discusses how close he is with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Recently, he even handed over his book to him.”
Avinash Dwivedi, who was a political science student of BHU and is currently working as a freelance journalist, told NewsClick, "I left BHU 6 years back and that time too his attitude towards students was the same. He never listened to his students and hardly used to come for the class. However, he comes from an RSS background and it won’t be a surprise if he gets a Lok Sabha ticket from Varanasi if Narendra Modi does not contest. His name was in the race in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections too, but as Modi himself contested, Mishra could not. However, he openly gives threats to anyone, and speaks whatever he wants."
Talking about his work, Avinash added, "I have written a series of stories on the "appointments scam" at BHU and how upper caste teachers are being dominant in BHU. How often a professor's son becomes a professor. Even if he is unable to become one, then he is forced to be a professor. Mishra is one of them. He is the nephew of professor Virbhadra Mishra who was also a professor at IIT BHU. Three cousins of Koushal Mishra are now part of BHU. B.N Mishra in Neurology Department, Vijay Nath Mishra in IIT, and Anoop Mishra is teaching in a college which is affiliated with the BHU. When I was doing this story, I rang him to take his quote and instead of giving statement he openly gave threat on "social media" and asked me to come to BHU, then he will let me know.”
Meanwhile, soon after this controversy, senior journalist Ravish Kumar has written an opinion piece on NDTV addressing the President of India, asking if the President will terminate Mishra from BHU, for displaying his number at a public forum and his attempt to instigate people.
Ramnath Goenka and Red Ink Awardee, senior journalist Abhisar Sharma who is also facing threats told NewsClick, "A BHU professor making our phone numbers public for online lynching is worrisome from two angles. One, an academic close to the BJP is actually setting a dreadful example in front of impressionable and vulnerable youthful minds to indulge in such criminal behavior. Secondly, this is yet another proof of the fact that this entire operation was sponsored and carried out by the IT CELL of the ruling party. Will the ruling party and its members promote anarchy? Provoke its citizens to lynch its own citizens? When will the powers that be speak about it and put an end to this? Its a shocking trend that has been going for sometime now and shall increase as we approach elections."
NewsClick also approached Professor Koushal Mishra to know his version but he refused to comment over this saying that he does not know Ravish Kumar nor has he circulated anyone;s number. He said, “Everybody knows journalists’ numbers, why would I disperse his number?”
On being asked why Ravish Kumar had written an open letter accusing Mishra of circulating his number, he said, "I am an active and famous personality in Varanasi. People of left ideology spread my name without any reason. Anyone can check my Facebook profile."
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