Delhi: The Delhi Police on Tuesday served notices to two Congress leaders in connection with the probe into a complaint about the alleged "Congress toolkit" matter even as the Congress once again wrote to Twitter asking them to flag tweets by 11 Union ministers referring to the alleged “Congress toolkit” as “manipulated media”.
The letter, written to Jim Baker, Twitter’s deputy general counsel and vice-president (legal), and Vijaya Gadde, lead for legal, policy and trust and safety, by Congress’ communications chief and general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala says, “The subject matter of the forged Toolkit document was created by certain BJP leaders to gain undue and wrongful political advantage by spreading potentially dangerous, false and fabricated material through their Twitter handles against the Indian National Congress and its leaders”.
The letter carried the URLs of the specific tweets by these ministers which the Congress demanded to be marked under “manipulative media”.
The Union ministers against whom the Congress has sought action are Giriraj Singh, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prahlad Joshi, Dharmendra Pradhan, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Thawarchand Gehlot, Harsh Vardhan, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. The letter also said, “The forged, fabricated material and the claims made under the #CongressToolkitExposed by various ministers are identical to the material that has already been marked as ‘manipulative media’ by Twitter.”
A senior Delhi police officer, meanwhile, confirmed that notices were served to Congress social media head Rohan Gupta and party spokesperson M.V. Rajeev Gowda in connection with the probe. "These are not fresh notices. These notices were served around eight-nine days ago based on a complaint received from the Congress. They were asked to join the probe so that it could help us in carrying out the investigation forward," the officer said.
A preliminary inquiry into the complaint is still being carried out by the Delhi Police's Special Cell team and no FIR has been registered yet, officials said.
On Monday, the Delhi Police's Special Cell sent a notice to Twitter India in connection with the probe, asking it to share information based on which it had classified a related tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra as "manipulated media", officials said. On Monday evening, police teams descended on the microblogging site's offices in Lado Sarai in Delhi and in Gurgaon but found them empty as Twitter has had work-from-home since march 2020.
The BJP has accused the Congress of creating a “toolkit” that seeks to tarnish the image of the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the handling of the Covid pandemic. However, the Congress has denied the allegation and claimed that the BJP is propagating a fake “toolkit” to defame it.
Last week, Twitter labelled as "manipulated media" tweets by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on the alleged “toolkit”, saying that it "may label Tweets that include media (videos, audio, and images) that have been deceptively altered or fabricated".
Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal said, "It appears that Twitter has some information which is not known to us and on the basis of which they have classified it (Patra's tweet) as such. This information is relevant to the inquiry. The Special Cell, which is conducting the inquiry, wants to find out the truth. Twitter, which has claimed to know the underlying truth, should clarify.”
The government had earlier asked Twitter to remove the “manipulated media” tag, saying that the social media platform cannot pass judgment when the issue is under investigation.
BJP leaders, including Mr Patra, have posted numerous tweets to attack the Congress over the purported “toolkit”.
On May 19, the Congress lodged a police complaint seeking registration of cases against BJP chief J.P. Nadda, Union minister Smriti Irani, BJP general secretary B.L. Santosh and Mr Patra over the alleged forgery of documents.
The Chhattisgarh unit of the Congress' students wing NSUI also lodged a complaint against Mr Patra and former chief minister Raman Singh for allegedly "forging" the letterhead of the AICC research department and printing "false and fabricated" content on it.
On the basis of the complaint, a case has been filed against Mr Patra and Mr Singh at the Civil Lines police station in Raipur....