How the ringmaster of BJP’s IT Cell weaponizes misinformation

On January 15, 2020, Amit Malviya, national in-charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) IT cell, shared a video of a random group of persons insinuating that the women of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) for money. His allegation was found baseless by a collaborative Alt News-Newslaundry investigation. But this hardly discouraged Malviya.

Two days hence, he shared a photograph of an elderly man eating biryani at Shaheen Bagh. In a bizarre tweet, Malviya wrote, “Proof of Biryani being distributed at Shaheen Bagh!”

Was the BJP leader alluding that the act of eating food at a protest site is an offence or morally incorrect? Should the protesters be participating on empty stomachs? Only he can answer.

Misinformation targeting Anti-CAA protests

1. Falsely claimed that anti-CAA protesters in Lucknow chanted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’

On December 28, 2019, Malviya tweeted a video of anti-CAA protest at Lucknow’s Clock Tower and claimed that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans were raised in the rally.

Alt News found that the claim was false. The protesters did not raise pro-Pakistan slogans but said ‘Kashif Saab zindabad’. Kashif Saab aka Kashif Ahmad is the Lucknow AIMIM chief. In a conversation with Alt News, AIMIM UP president Haji Shaukat Ali informed that Kashif Ahmad was leading the December 13 protest.

2. Falsely claimed AMU students chanted “Hinduon ki kabr khudegi”

A video of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act was circulated on social media with a claim that they raised slogans against Hindus. Along those who shared it was Malviya.

The students were actually raising slogans against Hindutva, Savarkar, BJP, Brahminism, and casteism. They said, “हिंदुत्व की कब्र खुदेगी, AMU की छाती पर, सावरकर की कब्र खुदेगी, AMU की छाती पर, ये बीजेपी की कब्र खुदेगी, AMU की छाती पर, ब्राह्मणवाद की कब्र खुदेगी, AMU की छाती पर, ये जातीवाद की कब्र. (Grave of Hindutva will be dug on the chest of AMU, grave of Savarkar will be dug on the chest of AMU, this BJP’s grave will be dug on the chest of AMU, Brahminism’s grave will be dug on the chest of AMU, Casteism’s grave will be dug -translated)”.

3. Journalist Arfa Khanum’s speech on CAA shared with distorted interpretation

“The Islamists want CAA protests to be ‘inclusive’ only till the time you, the non-Muslims, start accepting their religious identity, beliefs and supremacist slogans as gospel,” tweeted BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya while sharing a video of journalist Arfa Khanum.

The speech delivered by Arfa Khanum at Aligarh Muslim University was clipped and misrepresented. They claimed that the journalist was promoting the establishment of Islamic society and urging protesters to maintain a pretence of support to non-Muslims until such a society is created. However, Khanum was stating the complete opposite. She urged protesters to not use religious slogans to maintain the secular character of the movement.

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