Chhattisgarh police to question former chief minister over Congress ‘toolkit’
The Chhattisgarh Police have issued a notice to former chief minister Raman Singh asking him to remain at his residence on Monday for questioning for allegedly spreading fake news related to the toolkit, or a social media campaign playbook, that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has claimed was prepared by the Congress to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A case was on Wednesday registered in Raipur in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh against Singh and other BJP leaders for allegedly promoting enmity by allegedly spreading fake news related to the “toolkit”. It was filed on the complaint of Akash Sharma, the chief of Congress’s student wing National Students’ Union of India in the state, under Indian Penal Code’s Sections including 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace).
The BJP has alleged the “toolkit” was aimed at building a biased narrative over the Centre’s handling of the second wave of Covid-19, and the Central Vista Project. Many top BJP leaders, including its chief JP Nadda and Union ministers Smriti Irani, Hardeep Puri, Anurag Thakur, Piyush Goyal, amplified tweets about it.
The Congress accused the BJP of concocting the document on Covid-19. In a tweet on Tuesday, Congress’s research department head Rajeev Gowda said: “BJP is propagating a fake ‘toolkit’ on ‘Covid-19 mismanagement’ & attributing it to AICC [All India Congress Committee] Research Department. We are filing an FIR [First Information Report] for forgery against @jpnadda & @sambitswaraj When our country is devastated by Covid, instead of providing relief, BJP shamelessly concocts forgeries.”
Raipur police superintendent Ajay Yadav cited due process and added the notice has been issued to Singh for questioning him in the case and to get his statement recorded.
Police officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they want to question Singh whether the Twitter account @drramansingh belonged to him, where did he get the alleged Congress’s documents from, and about the communication between him and others regarding the use of hashtag “CongressToolkitExposed” on social media.
In his complaint, Sharma accused the BJP leaders of forging, fabricating, and manufacturing the documents on the letterhead of the AICC Research Department. It added they were meant to be spread via social media and has “potential of creating communal disharmony, unrest in the country”. He accused the BJP of using the alleged documents “to spread fake news” which has the potential of inciting “violence and fuelling hatred”.
The BJP slammed the Congress for registering the case and issuing notice to Singh and called it an attempt to save its face. “The case registered against Raman Singh is completely fake and politically motivated. The Chhattisgarh Police are working under political pressure and hence served the notice,” said Gauri Shankar Srivas, a BJP spokesperson.