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File photo of Arvind Gupta, top official in BJP’s IT cell

Protests force JNU to cancel Arvind Gupta lecture

Faced with threats of protest by students, JNU on Wednesday put off a lecture on ‘Digital Literacy’ which was to be delivered by the controversial official of BJP’s IT Cell

Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday cancelled a lecture on ‘Digital Literacy’ following threats of protest by the JNU Students’ Union. The lecture was to be delivered by the controversial top official of BJP’s IT cell, Arvind Gupta.

The invitation was extended on behalf of the JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar for the lecture to be delivered at the auditorium of the School of Arts and Aesthetics.

Gupta has been in the news following publication of the book I am a Troll by journalist Swati Chaturvedi. The book painstakingly exposes the functioning of the IT cell of the BJP, which allegedly prepared hit lists and attacked targets on social media and encouraged hate-filled and misogynist messages.

Women activists, journalists and Muslims were singled out by the cell, alleged an active member of the cell, Sadhavi Khosla, who left in disgust. Swati Chaturvedi mentioned in detail how Arvind Gupta gave instructions for relentless on line campaigns

Arvind Gupta was busy in a meeting and was not available for comments. Nor was the JNU Registrar.

Later talking to the media Sadhavi Khosla also confirmed that it was Arvind Gupta who led trolls against Aamir Khan for his comment on intolerance during a conversation in Ramnath Goenka award ceremony in 2015.

According to Sadhavi “members of the social media cell of BJP led by Arvind Gupta were given a “hit list” which included journalist Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai apart from political opponents.

Gupta has denied the allegations. Talking to The Indian Express, he dubbed Khosla as a Congress supporter and said, “BJP never encouraged trolling. It had published social media guidelines on its website.”

He was also quoted by newspaper as saying, “I do not directly supervise social media activities since 2015 when the party structure was reorganised.”