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RSS media arm honours group that branded citizens anti-national

L​ast Saturday, Clean The Nation (CTN), the group which went after them, was honoured
with the Social Media Patrakarita Narad Samman, instituted by RSS-affiliate Indraprastha
Vishwa Samvad Kendra (IVSK).
A group of men who went after those they called “anti-national” and claim they got them
arrested, suspended and, in one case, fired from a job won an RSS affiliate’s badge of honour
— for social media journalism.
Indeed, the proof of the achievement they flaunt is telling. These include a letter from a
Guwahati college suspending an assistant professor; a letter from a Rajasthan university
suspending four Kashmiri students, all girls; a Twitter post that led to an arrest in Jaipur; a
letter from a Greater Noida engineering college suspending a Kashmiri student; and a
Facebook post that led to the arrest of an undergraduate student in Katihar, Bihar.
When ​The Indian Express contacted authorities and officials, some said they had withdrawn
their action since no criminal case was made out.
These men and women were singled out for social media comments in the wake of the
Pulwama terror attack and the air duel between Indian and Pakistani warjets after the Balakot
air strike. Following the Pulwama attack, Kashmiri students in several colleges were targeted
by angry mobs and many had to leave campuses fearing a backlash.

Last Saturday, Clean The Nation (CTN), the group which went after them, was honoured with
the Social Media Patrakarita Narad Samman, instituted by RSS-affiliate Indraprastha Vishwa
Samvad Kendra (IVSK).
The Narad Samman ceremony for journalism awards was held at the India International
Centre in New Delhi where the winners were felicitated in the presence of RSS joint general
secretary Manmohan Vaidya and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
On the social media journalism award to CTN, Vagish Issar, secretary of IVSK, said: “We
gave the award to them because we saw how much this group loves the nation. Many people
love the nation, but some people love it actively.”
The CTN started as a Facebook group, formed by nine men on February 15, a day after the
terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama. Most of its activity was over the next two days, in
which they claim to have drawn over 4,500 members. Facebook and Twitter later repeatedly
took down CTN handles, but the initial Facebook page was run by a loose network of about
40 administrators with a lead group of nine men, mostly in their 20s who work as IT
professionals in Delhi and Noida. Today, its Twitter handle @CleanTheNation1 has over
In the first video that mobilised the group across platforms in February, CTN core member
Madhur Singh says: “This is not a time to change your DPs and take out candle marches.”
Sporting a shirt with Indian Army written across it, he says: “Find out who is laughing at our
soldiers today… Contact their employers. Contact the universities they are studying in …
Screw them up this way. Get them terminated from their jobs. Get them suspended from their
Known as “Placard Guy” in the network, Singh told The Indian Express that his team focused
on collecting information through Facebook because it has the most personal location details.
CTN core members claimed that the group’s online mobilisation efforts led to “roughly 45
actions” against “anti-Indians”.
The majority of complaints from the expansive yet loosely-connected network were tweets
tagging CTN leaders and local police handles, but CTN claims several members also filed
FIRs and company and university complaints outside of social media.
In one case, an MBA student was suspended from IIMT College of Engineering in Greater
Noida for a Facebook post. Sanjay Pachauri, chief proctor at the college who signed the
suspension order, told The Indian Express that he had emailed and sent a WhatsApp
message to the student after an internal complaint alerted him to the post on February 16.
The student was in Kashmir for a break, and told administration that the account was not his
because it had a different spelling from his name.
The college issued a suspension order, and directed the student to lodge an FIR at the police
station concerned regarding the “hacked” social media ID. The student sent a copy of the FIR
over WhatsApp to Pachauri and, on February 19, the police station sent a letter saying that
the student was “not involved in any kind of supervised criminal activity”. The student,
Pachauri said, has not returned to college since and has missed his examination.
Another document from the CTN network was a suspension letter from the ICON Commerce
College in Guwahati against an assistant professor. An anonymous Twitter handle connected
to the CTN network tagged Assam Police’s Twitter handle with a screenshot of the professor’s
comment, to which the official handle responded that the case was being looked into. On
February 16, police lodged a case against the professor under sections of the IPC and IT Act.
The assistant professor told The Indian Express that she had fled her home that day because
of “media hounding” and returned at the end of the month when reporters had dropped the
story. She said that college management had told her to wait for a final decision on her
suspension, but she was yet to hear from them on the status of her position.
In Jaipur, a 32-year-old man was arrested on February 28 for a Facebook post regarding
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot who was captured by Pakistan
security forces after he had to eject from his aircraft. The man, who was arrested and charged
under sections of the IPC and IT Act, is currently out on bail, police said. “I spent three days in
police custody and seven days in judicial custody. Right now I am out on bail and have
appeared in court a few times. The police are yet to conclude their investigation,” he told The
Indian Express.

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Four Kashmiri students, all girls, studying at NIMS university in Jaipur, were suspended on
February 16 for a WhatsApp status update following the Pulwama terror attack. The post was
interpreted as celebratory and after protests from fellow students and local residents, they
were suspended from college and hostel with the university observing that they had posted an
“anti-national message,” and termed their actions “grave” and “serious in nature.”
All four were booked under sections 124A (sedition) and 153B (imputations, assertions
prejudicial to national integration) of the IPC as well as sections of the IT Act. SHO Vikrant
Sharma said the FIR was lodged on a complaint by NIMS Deputy Registrar Sushila Chahar,
but none of the four was arrested at any point.
“We investigated the case and concluded that no offence is made out against them. We then
submitted our report in the court,” Sharma said.
Chahar told The Indian Express: “Police investigated the case and filed their final report,
where no offence was made out against them. Hence, we revoked their suspension order.
Since then, the girls have also appeared in their annual examination.”
In Katihar in Bihar, an undergraduate student was arrested from his village on February 17 for
a Facebook post.
In Srinagar, a car dealership’s HR department disputed the authenticity of a termination letter
shared by the CTN network. The letter circulated on social media said the company fired an
employee for posting “unlawful and discriminational comments”. The man in question, who is
still employed at the car dealership, told The Indian Express: “Because of this drama, I had
lots of problems at home. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. This photo became very
viral over here. Whatever happened, happened. Why it happened, I don’t know.”
CTN core member Ashutosh Vashishtha said: “These documents came from our shared
Google Docs. How can it be fake? Many organisations said that these people don’t work here,
and then when we went to check, we saw that they were hiding their employees to protect
their reputation. This document is definitely verified.”

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