Rekha Sharma claimed that her account was ‘hacked’. However, screenshots of several other older problematic tweets were shared by users.

National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma wearing a black and white saree seen pointing while addressing the media in Mumbai
news Controversy Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 18:28

Rekha Sharma, the National Commission of Women of India, is facing massive backlash after several of her old tweets were found to be misogynistic and sexist. After screenshots of the controversial tweets went viral and calls grew louder for her removal as the NCW Chief, Rekha turned settings of her Twitter account to private and is believed to have deleted some of her older controversial tweets after she protected her profile.

However, screenshots of her old tweets had already been shared. In defence of a 2012 tweet targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where she had called him a “deaf and a mute person,” Rekha Sharma claimed that her account was ‘hacked’. However, screenshots of several other older tweets were shared by users, and the problematic tweets ranged from targeting Jawaharlal Nehru with an alleged Photoshopped image, targeting Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi with sexist jokes and even ‘wishing rape’ upon a man’s family. 

Members of the opposition party Congress, activists, celebrities and politicians have questioned the NCW chief. AAP leader Atishi addressed a press conference on Wednesday, demanding Rekha Sharma’s resignation. “If a woman who herself has a vulgar, cheap and anti-woman mindset presides over an institution that has to stand up for women's rights, what expectation can we have from it? Will she stand up for women, will she take action against vulgar Twitter trolls, will she take action when women are harassed, against rapists? The AAP demands that Rekha Sharma be removed as the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women with immediate effect,” said Atishi.

However, aside from her tweets, Rekha Sharma had stoked criticism in the first place for her meeting with Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in Mumbai, where she discussed the “rise” in 'love jihad' cases in the state, among other issues, a statement from the NCW said. 

‘Love Jihad’ is a term often used by trolls and certain members of right-wing Twitter to oppose interfaith marriages. The theory is that Hindu women are ‘lured’ into marriages by Muslim men and are forced into converting to Islam. However, this theory remains just a theory — it has no proof or law or data to back it. The government has stated in the Parliament before that there is no data to allege such a ‘love jihad.’

The Centre earlier in February told the Parliament that the term 'Love Jihad' is not defined under the extant laws and no case of 'Love jihad' has been reported by any of the central agencies. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy had said Article 25 of the Constitution provides for the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health. 

"The term 'Love Jihad' is not defined under the extant laws. No such case of 'Love Jihad' has been reported by any of the central agencies," he said in reply to a written question.

The NCW’s meeting was also criticised by many on social media for “[legitimising] a communal term spread by those who seek to undermine secularism.”

At the time of writing, Rekha Sharma’s handle remained private. She had over 16.9k retweets on Tuesday night before she locked her account, and according to screenshots online, her tweet count has reduced by around 300 tweets, indicating that many have now been deleted.

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