Cops now allege global plot to 'defame Narendra Modi'
Maharashtra Cyber Cell submits report linking emerging leaders Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid to protests against the PM during his foreign visits; critics ask: so what?
Before the recent arrests of activists in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, the Maharashtra cyber cell submitted a curiously-worded report to the state and central governments, saying that after the Bhima-Koregaon incident, a deliberate online campaign was started to highlight the issue at an international level.
The report also says that the 'plot' behind this 'negative publicity' was to 'defame the Modi government.' Sent to the state and centre, it mentions the protests held in London in January, after the Bhima-Koregaon violence broke out, and before Modi was to address the World Economic Forum in Davos. They've mentioned the campaigns arranged at the Parliament Square and Indian High Commission in London on January 20 and 22 respectively. Cyber cell officials have said these demonstrations were held to ensure negative publicity. The report says the plot behind this was to defame the Modi government.
The cyber cell claims to have found 'mobilisation and misinformation campaigns' being carried out on social media over the Bhima-Koregaon issue. Representation pic
Khalid, Mevani mentioned
Cyber cell officials also claimed around 250 Twitter handles were created to spread misinformation and incite violence by misusing info about Bhima Koregaon. They say they've found mobilisation and misinformation campaigns being carried out on social media on the issue. Among the material they say they've found are 'suspicious videos' of speeches about the Bhima-Koregaon incident, in which activists from the UK can be heard talking about it. They have not disclosed the names of any people identified in these so-called suspicious videos.
In the tweets that they scanned, cyber cops say they found names of student leader Umar Khalid and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, among others. As per the report, a deliberate attempt was made to create a negative feeling about Bhima Koregaon, with the hashtag #BhimaKoregaonJusticeUK. They had given speeches at the Elgaar Parishad event, held a day before the violence broke out, for which they were later booked on the charges of 'spreading disharmony among communities.' mid-day reached out to Khalid and Mevani, but they remained unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, general secretary of CPI (ML) Dipankar Bhattacharya told mid-day, "Whatever happened with Dalits in Bhima Koregaon was wrong, and we will support that anywhere in the world."
A senior official of the state police, however, claimed that these are routine findings that are reported by the department to the Chief Minister's Office and the home ministry. The official added that whenever any violence erupts, the department follows trends related to it on social media. Sources said that those associated with the CPI (M) were allegedly active in trying to incite people online. They did not elaborate. Reacting to the report, retired IPS officer Madhu Shinde said, "This [report] is not new, but it is very important for the government. Such reports help them understand what is going on in the minds of the public. If an incident like Bhima Koregaon has occurred and become an international one, state agencies follow the [social media] trends to understand who is using this topic and for what purpose."
No. of Twitter handles allegedly spreading misinformation about the Bhima Koregaon incident
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