When Abraham Mathias, ex vice-chairman of the State Minorities Commission, received an anonymous email that slandered his reputation on both professional and personal fronts, from email@example.com, a USA-based server, he had little inkling that the hate mail would have originated from a community member in his neighbourhood.
The email was sent three years ago, and a detailed investigation by the Cyber Cell of Mumbai Police pointed the finger at his community member Joseph Dias, who lives close to Mathias’ residence in Santacruz (East) and is the general secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF).
Hard disks found
The Cyber Cell report (available with mid-day) indicates that officials had recovered two hard disks from Dias’ home and office. These were sent to the Forensic Science lab for inspection, which subsequently concluded that the hate mail was drafted and transmitted from it, using an anonymous email ID.
Ironically, on the same evening that news of the hate mail spread, Mathias received a sympathy mail from Dias, advising forces to restraint from breaking the peace of the community. “The mail went to the extent of praising my work and dedication to protect the interest of our community,” said Mathias.
“It was so shocking to find a mail which accused me of such heinous crimes like molesting women in my office and swindling funds, that I immediately approached the police to probe the matter. The results underline the sinister plan by those who claimed to be close to me, and are supposedly working to keep up the interest of our community.”
Based on these findings, the Vakola police registered a case on Saturday. Investigating Officer Ravinder Sawant, of Vakola police station, informed that the accused has been charged under sections 66A (sending offensive messages through communication service) and 66D (cheating by personation by using computer resource) of the IT Act.
“We registered the FIR on late Saturday evening. If proven in the court of law, the alleged offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine,” said Sawant. Mukund Pawar, police inspector at the Cyber Cell, has refused to comment on the case.
The other side
Joseph Dias said the entire episode was a motivated one to blackmail him from dropping charges against Mathias in a different case filed against him. “I totally deny the charges against me. In spite of having been personally harassed by Mathias on numerous occasions, for which the Vakola police has been informed from time to time, I set aside the animosity and personally sent out a mail to the community, condemning the hate mail,” said Dias. Dias added that the police ought to check the source of the mail, which could have been done by hacking his IP address from an unknown source, or that somebody else had access to his computer, without his knowledge.