Doctored video of Amit Shah speech | Delhi, Assam, Maharashtra police file cases

Cases filed in Delhi, Assam, and Maharashtra, one arrested; notice sent to Telangana CM asking him to appear before the Delhi Police tomorrow; he says he isn’t scared; the clip purports to show comments by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on reservation at a rally in Telangana  

April 29, 2024 10:46 pm | Updated April 30, 2024 09:34 am IST - New Delhi

Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses a public meeting in Chevella, Ranga Reddy district, on April 23, 2023.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses a public meeting in Chevella, Ranga Reddy district, on April 23, 2023. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The police in Delhi, Assam, and Maharashtra filed three separate cases and arrested at least one person - a Congress functionary from Assam - in connection with a doctored video of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s April 23 speech in Telangana regarding reservation.

Also Read: Lok Sabha polls 2024 LIVE- April 30

Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, and four other Congress office-bearers in the State too found themselves embroiled in the controversy on Monday, as the Delhi Police issued notice to them under Section 91 (summons to produce documents) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). 

A government source told The Hindu that the notice to to appear before the Delhi Police on Wednesday has been sent to Mr. Reddy as he is the president of the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) and not because he is the Chief Minister of the State.

“The video that looks prima facie ‘altered’ was posted by on X [formerly Twitter] by Telangana Congress. Being the State president of the party, Mr. Reddy has to explain the origin of the video,” the source said, adding that if Mr. Reddy does not appear on the scheduled date, another notice will be sent. The video was fact-checked by a Telugu user on X the same day, and that user will be asked to join the probe to trace the video, the source further said. 

The doctored video was posted on X by the Telangana Congress on April 27 and the post was not available on April 29.

While in the doctored video, Mr. Shah is heard saying that the BJP intends to eradicate reservations for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes (OBC), in the original video he says the party intends to remove the 4% reservation for Muslims in Telangana. 

“When the BJP will form the government, it will end the unconstitutional reservation for Muslims in Telangana. This is the right of ST/SCs and OBCs and they will get their rights,” says Mr. Shah in the original video. The video is part of an election speech Mr. Shah delivered at Chevella in Telangana.

Reacting to the FIR by the Delhi Police, Mr. Reddy, who was addressing a rally in Kalaburagi in Karnataka, said he was not “scared”. “So far, the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and Income Tax Department were used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Home Minister to win elections, but today I got to know that a team of Delhi Police reached the Telangana Congress party’s office because someone posted something on social media. They came to arrest the Telangana Congress president and the Telangana CM, this means the PM is using Delhi Police to win elections now, but we aren’t scared”, he said.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma posted on X that the police have arrested an individual of the State named Reetam Singh in connection with the fake video. A senior police official from the Assam Police too confirmed the arrest of the 31-year-old Mr. Singh, a lawyer at the Guwahati High Court, and resident of Ulubari. He is currently the State War Room Coordinator of the Congress’s Assam unit. 

The Delhi Police has also written to social media platforms such as Facebook and X to trace the user who first posted the video. “We are investigating both the source of the video and those responsible for its widespread circulation,” said another source.

The Delhi Police lodged an FIR in the matter on Sunday, after an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted a complaint about the doctored video “spreading misleading information with the intention of creating disharmony among communities”, and “likely to affect public tranquillity” and cause “public order issues”. 

The complainant in the Mumbai case is Pratik Karpe, a BJP OBC Morcha leader, while in Assam the complaint was filed by Dipak K. Das at Guwahati’s Panbazar Police Station. 

The FIR by Delhi Police was registered under Sections 153 (causing provocation with intention to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc), 465 (forgery), 469 (forgery to harm the reputation of any party), and 171G (publishing false statement with intent to affect the result of an election) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Information Technology Act, the police said.

The Mumbai Police and Assam Police too registered cases under similar sections. The complaint in Mumbai mentions 17 handles on X belonging to the Congress party, its sympathisers and members of Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar).

Taking a dig at Congress leaders who allegedly posted the doctored video, Mr. Modi, addressing a rally in Karnataka said that those who lost elections are using technology to create fake videos and AI to spread misinformation. “I request the Election Commission to take action against those responsible,” said Mr. Modi. 

Responding to the allegations, Congress spokesperson and legal advisor Ramchandra Reddy said that they have received the Delhi Police’s notice seeking information and evidence from social media head Satish Manne, and are currently going through the contents of the document of the FIR. 

“It [the FIR] is against the social media team and nobody else. I have received three notices on behalf of Satish Manne, Ashma Taslima and Shivshankar,” added Mr. Ramchandra Reddy. However, he added that he had not received any complaint copy. 

Telangana BJP president G. Kishan Reddy said that action should be taken in this matter. “There are two issues here, there was an attempt made to incite a riot among people in name of reservation, and that a morphed video of the Home Minister was posted from an official social media handle. We will also approach the court in this matter, we will take the CM and the party to court,” he said.

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