The Northeastern state of Nagaland is up for polls on 27th February and it has already witnessed a drama in the form of the Congress party failing to find candidates to contest for it.
The state again became a backdrop of much frenzy after a propaganda portal called “The News Joint” published a sensational article titled, “Has Ram Madhav landed in trouble in Nagaland”:
The website which had a tagline of “Get High On News” alleged in the content that he was caught in a compromising position with two Naga women in a hotel room. It further alleged that the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), caught him in the act and proceeded to hold him captive for hours, following which Himanta Biswa Sarama secured his release.
Even though the News website in question was barely popular, Congress MPs and activists proceeded to use it as a tool to attack Madhav, possibly before verifying the allegations:
— Sushmita Dev (@sushmitadevmp) February 11, 2018
The BJP Nagaland was quick to vehemently condemn this story as fake news and even Himanta Biswa Sarma put out a tweet:
Shocked at utter & shameless falsehood being spread about @rammadhavbjp ji. We challenge those behind this blatant lie to prove the claims. Meanwhile, we are moving to the cyber crime department to investigate this. We shall also sue all those involved in spreading rumours!
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) February 11, 2018
With such slanderous allegations doing the round about a top BJP leader, people decided to investigate more about the website and that’s when skeletons began to tumble out.
As uncovered by Twitter users, this website was registered on 2nd February, a mere nine days before the story got published and is owned by “Domain by Proxy” which allows the website owners to remain anonymous.
An ANI editor also claimed that the IP address of the website gave no contact information and its IP address was traced to Singapore.
2019 will be very ugly if the slanderous work of fiction doing the rounds on Ram Madhav are a yardstick to go by. Dodgy website, registered a month ago, IP pinging from Singapore, 3 articles, no contact info. Russian style online disinformation comes to India.
— ishaan prakash (@ishaan_ANI) February 11, 2018
To further put the website in the dock, since the publication of the story, it also gone offline, and even its domain has been put up for sale, where people are now directed to, after clicking on the story link:
As a result of all this, the BJP filed a FIR against the website for Ram Madhav’s character assassination and an attempt to sabotage the party’s campaign in the state:
In the letter addressed to the Officer-in-charge of the East Police Station in Dimapur, the party also drove home its point by explaining that Ram Madhav was only in Dimapur for a brief three hour stopover, when he held meetings with political leaders. After which he soon left, thus as per the party no such alleged incident happened.
Since then BJP’s IT head Amit Malviya has alleged that the story was a plant and was only known to Congress workers and its supporters. He also asserted that the truth would come out following a criminal investigation.
This whole episode raises the question whether the website only created in order to defame Ram Madhav, and if so who is the BJP making so nervous that they have decided to resort to such measures?
It remains to be seen whether the cyber experts in the law enforcement agencies would be able to get to the bottom of this affair.