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Jammu and Kashmir police book Twitter user Sushil Pandit for spreading fake news on ‘ceasefire’

Sushil Pandit was booked after he tweeted with the hashtag #RamzanCeasefire that he had heard that five CRPF personnel were killed in south Kashmir’s Pampore town

india Updated: May 21, 2018 22:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Jammu and Kashmir,Ceasefire,Twitter
Twitter Sushil Pandit was booked for spreading fake news that five CRPF personnel were killed in south Kashmir’s Pampore town.(Screenshot/Twitter)

Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday booked Twitter Sushil Pandit for spreading fake news that five CRPF personnel were killed in south Kashmir’s Pampore town.

A police spokesman said they booked Pandit for "spreading canards" after he posted a rumour from his Twitter handle @neelakantha.

“Just heard, 5 CRPF jawans martyred in Pampore. #RamzanCeasefire is working. Question is who is it working for!,” Pandit tweeted.

Sushil Pandit owns an advertising strategy company The Hive Communications India Pvt Ltd and is also an adjunct professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) Delhi. The Hive manages communication for corporates. Besides this, he previously worked as media strategist for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah was quick to point out that the ‘news’ was fake. “Given that NO ONE else has this “news” I think it’s safe to assume this is fake news spread with a malicious intent, the subtext being Muslim terrorists have killed Hindu CRPF jawans. These sorts of blatant lies must face legal action,” Abdullah tweeted.

Pandit, who also appears on some TV shows regularly, subsequently deleted the tweet.

The spokesman said police took cognisance of the matter when they observed that the tweet amounts to an offence under the law and have registered a case in this matter at police station Pampore under Section 505 of the Ranbir Penal Code.

“Investigation in the matter has been initiated to ascertain the facts pertaining to the case,” he said.

“Police have also directed a communication to the authorities in Twitter India, requesting them to provide the details of this particular Twitter user so that he is made to face the law. Besides, people are requested not to pay heed to such unverifiable information and to stay away from rumour mongering,” the spokesman said.

Sushil Pandit told HT,“I was at a seminar on Kashmir at India International Centre where a speaker mentioned this information that five CRPF jawans are killed in Pampore and questioned what kind of a ceasefire is this. So when I heard this, my tweet was ‘Just heard...... ‘I clarify, just heard, which means neither I have verified it nor I have the means to substantiate it. I tweeted in order to find details whether they died in an encounter or in an accident, whether it is five or three or no such thing happened.

“It seems those who want to get at me and are looking at some pretext or some kind of an alibi to harass me and want to use the instrumentalities of the state to get a citizen”, Pandit said.

Pandit also criticised Abdullah, saying he had taken the tweet out of context and attributed “layers and layers of motives to it .”

“Please do quote Omar Abdullah’s interpretation of my tweet to see how tendentious and malicious can someone who has been a chief minister of a state can be,” Pandit said.

Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir were asked by the Central government not to launch operations during the holy month of Ramzan to help Muslims observe the month of fasting in a peaceful environment . The announcement has brought some optimism among common people who want the Centre to take the initiative forward and start a dialogue with separatist leaders.

Early this month, two social media users Ashish Kaul (@ashishkaul13) and Arfat Bhat (@arfatbhat4) were booked by police in Kashmir for abusive posts on Twitter.

First Published: May 21, 2018 22:04 IST