The controversy over Indian MPs' letters to US President Barack Obama for denying visa to Narendra Modi has taken a new turn, with a California-based Forensic Document Examiner certifying that the signatures of the lawmakers are "original and authentic" and not a cut and paste job as claimed.
"Using accepted principles and methods of forensic examination, it is my opinion that the Q1-Q3 (three pages of Rajya Sabha MPs' letter) document was created in a single event, and that the signatures found upon it are original/authentic wet ink signatures," said the report after a forensic examination of the letter.
A similar finding was made in respect of the letter by Lok Sabha members.
The forensic examination of the handwritings on the two letters to Obama by members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on November 26 and December 5 last year respectively, which were re-faxed to the White House on July 21, was done by Nanette M Barto, approved Forensic Document Examiner, in California.
The examination was prepared at the request of Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) campaigning against Modi after some parliamentarians, notably CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, MP Achutan (CPI) and KP Ramalingam (DMK) denied having signed the letter to Obama.
CAG, a broad alliance of about 40 Indian-American organisations, has been campaigning against the US visa for Modi.
When contacted for reaction to the forensic examination report, Achutan maintained that he did not remember to have appended his signature to a memorandum like this.
All that he remembered was that he had signed a representation expressing anguish at the detention of Muslim youths in different parts of India, especially in northern states, by branding them as terrorists on flimsy grounds, he said.
Ramalingam said this was a privilege matter which has to be given to chairman Hamid Ansari. "I have already said I have not signed the letter," he said.
Yechury, who had earlier said that he had not signed the letter and his purported signature on the document, was a "cut and paste job" is away in Pyongyang on a visit as part of a parliamentary delegation to North Korea. He could not be reached for his comments.
Raja Swamy of CAG claimed that the forensic examination proved that the documents "are authentic, without any cut and paste operation done on either the paper copy or the electronic version and that each of the signatures is distinct individual".
"Since the authenticity of these letters has been called into question by some members of parliament who either do not recollect or deny having signed the letters, CAG decided to engage a professional forensic examiner, to verify the authenticity of the two letters.
"The forensic examiner we engaged is Ms. Nanette Barto, a court qualified Forensic Document Examiner and Handwriting Analyst," Swamy, a CAG spokesperson said.
Notarised copies of the reports, which are admissible as evidence in a court of law, were provided to PTI by the CAG.
"To summarise, the forensic examination proves that the document is authentic, without any "cut and paste" operation done on either the paper copy or the electronic version, and that each of the signatures is from a distinct individual," Swamy said.
In her forensic report, one for each of the letters, Barto said that font, leading, and kerning are consistent between each page indicating that the document was created all at one time.
"Staples impressions are consistent with the three-page document having been stapled together at the same time. The jpeg scan was scanned in at 300 dpi and in color. Examination of the handwriting revealed that this document was the original wet ink document scanned in at a high resolution," the report said.
"Careful examination of the document blown up to 400% revealed that each entry was crisp, smooth, and fluid handwriting in various color and types of inks. Natural pooling, breaking, and feathering of ink can be easily seen to support that this is a scan of an original document," it said.
"Examination for halo effects, pixel distortion, breaks in borders or baselines to determine it any alteration by way of cut and paste / computer alteration revealed no instances of these characteristics," the forensic report said.
"Examination of each signature for internal consistency of form, construction, entrance/exit, slant, spacing, ratio, and overall gestalt to determine if more than one entry was executed by the same hand showed no instances of similar characteristics between any two signatures," the report said.
"Signatures show no sign of trace or simulated forgery whereby excluding these characteristics: awkward/slow pen movement; tremors; stops/starts; and, blunt endings. Each signature is written with fluidity and speed, and bears their own fine/subtle traits and characteristics indicating that each signature was executed by a different hand," it said.
"The BJP's diversionary tactics to cover up the fact that (its president) Rajnath (Singh) had come with a begging bowl for Modi's visa have failed with this forensic exam," claimed Dr Shaikh Ubaid, president of Indian Minorities Advocacy Network (ImanNet) and one of the founders of the CAG.
"The bottom line is that Modi remains a liability and stigma even for his party. BJP leaders are not ultrapatriotic supermen but slobbering sycophants when it comes to America," Dr Ubaid said.