TT, New Delhi, March 1: Union home minister Kiren Rijiju today revealed he had not seen Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur's video on India-Pakistan peace before tweeting "Who is polluting this young girl's mind?" earlier this week.
During an interview with NDTV, he also claimed he had been unaware of the rape threats she had received (which forced her to leave Delhi yesterday).
"I did not know about the rape threats. How would I know it?" the minister shot back after being asked how he could have questioned who was polluting her mind when she was being threatened with rape.
Rijiju claimed he had first heard about Gurmehar, 20, from reporters while campaigning in Manipur.
Gurmehar has been trolled and threatened with rape since launching a campaign against Sangh student wing ABVP and condemning campus violence on Thursday.
Tweets she had posted last year holding up placards for peace - including one that said "Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him" - have been dug out selectively and ridiculed.
Rijiju said during the interview that Gurmehar had a right to her opinion, but his repeated tweets questioning her have been seen by social media users as endorsement of the attacks on her.
Asked by reporters yesterday about the verbal abuse she had been facing, the minister had said that everyone had the freedom of expression.
Rijiju also attracted charges of a double standard today by re-tweeting a soldier's video that criticised the sympathisers of Afzal Guru, hanged for the 2001 Parliament attack, and those who had questioned the army's September 29 "surgical strikes".
In January, Rijiju's ministry had banned paramilitary personnel from uploading personal photos or videos on social media without permission after two video exposures by jawans of poor work and living conditions. One of the two, BSF jawan Tej Bahadur, has been hauled up for indiscipline and faces a court of inquiry.
"A video of a jawan making a political speech is re-tweeted by Kiren Rijiju. It means indiscipline is being encouraged by ministers," tweeted Col (retd) Dinesh Kumar.
"The government's double standard is obvious.... Tej Bahadur was hauled up for airing genuine grievances while the soldier making a political speech is being hailed," a North Block bureaucrat said, requesting anonymity.
Posting the video of the soldier, Shriram Gorde, Rijiju tweeted: "Pain runs deeper than the Ocean. Very sad that our jawans are forced to speak with heavy heart."