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BJP Impersonating Journalists? Assam Congress Leaders Trace Calls Back

September 28, 2018

BJP Impersonating Journalists? Assam Congress Leaders Trace Calls Back

Guwahati: At a time when the BJP IT cell is facing severe criticism for spreading blatant lies and propaganda, three senior leaders of Assam Congress have filed police complaints, alleging that they have received calls from the BJP office at 11, Ashoka Road in New Delhi, impersonating journalists.

Bobbeeta Sharma, General Secretary and senior spokesperson of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC), has filed a written complaint to Kuladhar Saikia, Director General of Police, Assam. Speaking to NewsCentral24x7.com, Sharma said that she received two calls at around 2.00 pm on September 21, from numbers – 011-23385375 and 011-23385395.

A screenshot of MTNL customer care portal throwing up search results.

“The person introduced himself as Robin from NDTV, and then started speaking in English.” ‘Robin’ raised questions about various constituencies in Guwahati, like the East Guwahati constituency from where Sharma had contested and lost the 2016 assembly polls. He then asked about the number of people working there and whether they were happy with the BJP government. The caller also tried to extract similar information about nearby constituencies like the Kamrup Metro district. “Slowly I started having a doubt about the authenticity of the identity of the journalist,” she said.

After the call, when Sharma cross-checked the numbers with the MTNL directory to identify the caller’s identity. The directory revealed that the call was placed from a landline at the BJP office at 11, Ashoka Road, New Delhi.

Another senior spokesperson from APCC, Zoiinath Sarma, claimed to have received a similar call at around 3.00 pm, the same day, from the same number.

“The person introduced himself as a journalist from India Today. He said his name was Rituraj Bora and was from the research team of India Today, and that the channel was conducting a survey.” In good faith, Sarma decided to answer the questions about Assam’s rural masses’ reaction to the Rafale deal, on the Congress’ election strategy for the next Assembly polls and so on – “We talked for at least 20 minutes.” It was when Bobbeeta Sharma said that she had received similar calls that could be traced back to the BJP’s head office, “I got to know the person was impersonating a journalist,” Sarma said.

Sarma has filed an FIR at the Basistha police station and a case has been registered regarding the incident. “I strongly feel that the BJP will use the voice sample and try to hatch a political conspiracy against Congress leaders of Assam,” said the senior leader.

Dulu Ahmed, General Secretary of APCC, was the third person to receive a similar call that day. Like with Bobbeeta Sharma, the individual identified himself as an NDTV journalist and asked for details about Ahmed’s constituency of Hajo, and election strategies. “I was a bit busy and so I said I would call him back.” Ahmed, too, was informed by Sharma about having received such calls, originating from the BJP head office. He has filed a joint complaint with Sharma, with Assam’s DGP.

A copy of the complaint filed by Bobbeeta Sharma with the DGP. Sourced by Syeda Ambia Zahan

The police’s response remains cryptic – “A case has been registered regarding Zoiinath Sarma’s complaint. We have started our investigation, but we cannot reveal more details on this,” said Nabajit Das Baghri, an officer-in-charge of Basistha police station.

Hemanga Thakuria, Assam BJP spokesperson, said, “We have also come to know about the matter but further investigation is yet to be done on this. We are yet to intimate the matter with our head office.” He also added that these allegations levelled by the Congress leaders held no truth – “If the head office needs any information regarding any constituency of Assam, they would contact us and not the opposition. We have sufficient numbers of workers in the grassroots, booth and district levels. If we need any information, we get it from our karyakartas.” Thakuria further defended by saying that the head office phone could have been used by various other people who visit the office, and not necessarily a BJP worker.

The 11 Ashoka Road office used to be the BJP headquarter, which has now been moved to another building on Deen Dayal Marg. Speculations are rife that the old HQ would be used as BJP’s ‘war room’ for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

 

Click here to this story on NewsCentral 24×7, where it was first published.