Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Wednesday that the Malayalam weekly Madhyamam, which had published a report alleging snooping of emails of Muslims including Muslim League leaders and journalists by special branch of police, had deliberately distorted facts.
Talking to the media after a meeting of the Cabinet, the Chief Minister said that an attempt had been made to destroy communal harmony and create divisions among communities. “This was very unfortunate.”
Mr. Chandy said the details sought from email service providers by the police were part of a routine probe into email contacts of persons under observation of the police. “It is a normal procedure. It is the responsibility of the police to collect the information in this high-tech age for security of the nation and the people.”
The weekly had excluded non-Muslim names from the list of email addresses published by it, to add a communal colour to the police verification of email addresses in the list.
There were 268 addresses in the list, some with the names of the account holder and some without any names.
The weekly omitted the names of persons belonging to the Hindu or Christian communities in the list and substituted their email addresses with addresses appearing later in the list.
Some addresses that gave indication that they belonged to persons from non-Muslim communities were also dropped.
Altogether, the weekly published only 257 out of 268 the email addresses sent to the service providers. The omitted names included Vipin C. Bose, M. Hema and P. J. Cherian.
The Chief Minister said that the reference in the letters sent to the service providers that they were SIMI activists were an error committed by the Superintendent of police who prepared the letters.
The information sought was the account details (such as address) and login details (such as location of logins). The passwords to the accounts had not been sought and the police had not snooped into any email accounts.
Mr. Chandy said that the media should show restraint in reporting matters related to security. “It is a question of my and your security. Investigating agencies should not be demoralised.”
He lamented that that Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan had taken up the issue and had even gone beyond the propaganda by the weekly.
Asked about complaints that the police were tapping the telephones of journalists in Kollam and Palakkad, the Chief Minister said that he would enquire into the matter if the Kerala Union of Working Journalists complained to him about that.