Union Minister V Muralidharan’s convoy came under attack in West Midnapore district (PTI)
KOLKATA: Kolkata Police and the Bengal CID have started investigating complaints pouring in from citizens about fake news portraying them as “victims of post-poll violence in Bengal” across social media. Two FIRs have been registered so far and a third FIR could be filed soon, subject to verification of the complaint.
The police have set up a helpline and provided an email address where “victims” of fake news can report any such instance.
The immediate trigger was a post on social media by a south Kolkata youth, now working in Delhi, complaining about his portrayal as a “martyr” on the “West Bengal BJP” Facebook page. “I am Abhro Banerjee, living and hale and hearty and around 1,300km away from Sitalkuchi. BJP IT Cell is now claiming I am Manik Moitra and died in Sitalkuchi. Please don’t believe these fake posts and please don’t worry. I repeat: I am (still) alive,” he tweeted along with a screenshot of the post that allegedly misrepresented him as a “martyr” from Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar.
The 5.28-minute clip was later taken down from the “West Bengal BJP” Facebook page, but it was live on the “@BJP4India” Twitter handle until much later. This tweet, too, was deleted later, but it had been shared thousands of times by then.
When contacted for comment on Thursday morning, BJP’s Bengal spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “I will enquire and get back to you. Let me check the details first.”
The “BJPBengal” Twitter handle clarified that Banerjee’s image was “erroneously included in the video”. “Mamik Moitro succumbed to his injuries in Sitalkuchi following violence by Trinamool members,” the tweet said.
Banerjee told TOI he had nothing to add to his tweet. His friends said they were “worried” about what was happening. “This factory of lies is very dangerous,” one of them said.
Police officials said citizens could contact them by tweet or email or phone to report fake news. “Our cyber cell is probing the complaints we have received and we have already registered two FIRs. Complaints include fake news, false representations, threats issued over the internet and use of old clips from unrelated incidents to foment trouble,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Murlidhar Sharma said.
Another official said charges against the alleged offenders included publishing or circulating statements or reports containing rumours or news with the intent to create or promote feelings of enmity.