Twenty-two people, mostly students lost their lives in the tragic fire incident at a coaching centre atop a four-storey building in Surat last week. Weeks after the tragic incident, a concerted campaign is being unleashed in the social media against the BJP, especially against Amit Shah and his son Jay Shah.
A Facebook post by user Gaurav Zibbu had gone viral on the social media claiming that one of the victim’s families had refused to accept the compensation of Rs.4 lakh which was declared by the Gujarat government.
In the viral post, Zibbu has claimed that Deepak Panchani, father of one of the victims, 16-year old Happy Panchani had refused to accept the state government’s compensation saying that the fire brigade needed that money more than his family. The post claimed that the victim’s father had offered another Rs.4 lakhs from his own pocket suggesting they buy a rescue ladder with that money.
However, according to a news report, the family of the victim has refuted the claims made on social media and said that these are simply rumours. One of the family members claimed that the rumour had started circulating in the newspaper, social media, especially on Facebook and WhatsApp. “Nobody from our family, not even Happy’s father, has given any such application,” confirmed a relative to The Quint.
Shockingly, the propaganda is not limited to just trolls. In a bid to sensationalise the issue, even the mainstream media resorted to published unverified claims of the victim’s father rejecting the monetary compensation provided to his family by the Gujarat government.
A report by the Deccan Chronicle on May 27 had claimed that Deepak Panchani, father of Happy Panchani had rejected the Rs 4 lakh aid announced by the state government to the families of victims.
Soon Asian Age, the sister-concern of the Deccan Chronicle published the same propaganda claiming that the father of the victim had indeed rejected the Rs.4 lakh compensation promised by the government.
Further, in the post, Zibbu comes up with various fake conspiracy theories claiming that Jay Shah, son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah had been involved in some irregularities pertaining to the procurement of fire safety equipment and hydraulic ladders, which had resulted in the lapses in containing the fire during the Surat incident.
According to the post, the Gujarat government under Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel (1990-1994) was planning to procure hydraulic ladders for the fire department, that reach up to 8 floors across four major cities in the state (Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat). The post further adds that Keshubhai Patel’s government added another Rs. 500 crore to the budget with an intention to provide fire fighting infrastructure across 100 cities and towns across Gujarat.
Zibbu in his post accuses the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi of rising the cost of these trucks from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The post further added that current BJP’s Gandhinagar MP, Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah was handed the contract to supply the equipment in 2005.
The post also furnished an RTI number claiming that the details are available in the reply – RTI No. IN/GJ/203578/TSS – adding that probe should be held on all tenders and policy changes between 2002-2005.
Not just the said Facebook post, the false claims were lapped up soon by some social media users who used it to slander the Gujarat government.
Late Happy Deepak Panchani’s father refused to accept Rs 4 lakhs as compensation by Gujarat Govt in #SuratFire saying Fire Brigade needs that money more than victim’s family and offered another Rs 4 lakhs from own pocket suggesting they buy a rescue ladder with that money. pic.twitter.com/iElyis1hc4
— TheAgeOfBananas (@iScrew) May 29, 2019
However, the post by Gaurav Zibbu turned out to be a shoddy hit job against the then BJP leadership of Gujarat as the claims of the user does not concur with facts on the ground. Firstly, the RTI number which he has shared on his post is an incomplete one and no such records exist citing that Jay Shah or Amit Shah had got any such contract.
Secondly, the above-mentioned contract to buy fire hydraulic ladders and other equipment was initiated between 2002-2005. Interestingly, Amit Shah got married in the year 1987, and his son Jay Shah was born around 1988-89, which makes him a minor during the period 2002-2005.
Also, the claims of a major business entity like Adani buying second-hand fire trucks from the government do not seem to hold much ground.
In a hurry to indulge in false propaganda against BJP chief Amit Shah and his family, certain social media users have been insensitively attempting to use a tragic incident to further their political agenda.