Rumour mill appoints retired Brigadier as Mumbai Police chief

Screenshot of the video.  

A retired Indian Army Brigadier based in Pune found himself to be the subject of a hoax video warning of a terror alert in the country that went viral on social media on Sunday evening.

The video was accompanied by a caption in English, which proclaimed that the man was the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, and claimed that he was issuing a terror alert in light of the recent abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

By Monday, the Maharashtra Cyber department had identified the man as retired Brigadier Hemant Mahajan, who regularly appears on news channels as an expert on matters of national security.

Speaking to The Hindu from Pune, Brigadier Mahajan said, “Around four days ago, a news channel had sought my opinion on the fallout of the removal of Article 370. It was the news channel’s information that a terror alert has been issued by intelligence agencies, and I only referred to it while moving on to my thoughts on the subject. And as it was raining very heavily on that day, we mutually decided that I would record a video of myself and send it to them. How that same video has become viral as a terror alert is neither something I know nor something I can control.”

The video’s caption said, “Mumbai Police Commissioner. Total Mumbai under terrorist attack... be careful. All railway stations... bars or any theatres and auditoriums... all public places. Please forward to all groups. Jai Hind. Jai Maharashtra (sic).” The 1.54-minute video shows Brigadier Mahajan talking about the situation in Jammu & Kashmir in Marathi. However, nowhere in the video does Brigadier Mahajan identify himself as the Mumbai Police chief.

Dressed in a formal shirt and tie and seated in a semi-lit room, with a curtained window in the background, Brigadier Mahajan is seen in the video speaking in Marathi. He says, “Intelligence agencies have issued an alert saying that after removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan, its army and its intelligence agency ISI will try to incite violence in Mumbai. They have said that 19 cities in the country are under risk and have issued an alert. Security at airports and other important installations has been increased. Please remember one thing that if there is any kind of attack on the country, we have the capability of protecting our people from it. But when a terrorist attack occurs, or when a bomb blasts happens, security is anyway increased but they might fall short, so it is important for citizens to participate as well and be alert about what is going on around us.”

Brigadier Mahajan goes on to elaborate why it is important for the city’s residents to stay alert, “An attack is bound to happen somewhere some time and being alert 365 days is the only thing we can do because Pakistan will surely do something. They are capable of it. There is no need to be afraid, but it is important to stay alert and help the security agencies.”

Two hours after the video surfaced, officers of the Mumbai Police viewed it and went about quelling the rumour that the man in the video was the Mumbai Police Commissioner. Following the clarification, the rumour died down. The Cyber police then initiated inquiries into the matter.

Brigadier Mahajan said, “I received a call about the matter on Monday morning, which is when I realised that my video was being misused. I am still thinking as to whether to file an official complaint on the matter."

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Printable version | Jan 13, 2022 4:02:52 PM |

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