Assam police have arrested two journalists associated with a Guwahati based web portal for trying to malign the character of senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma using a photo of the minister with his daughter. Taufiquddin Ahmad, editor in chief of the portal Pratibimba Live, and its News Editor Asif Iqbal Hussain has been arrested for spreading fake news about the minister.
Yesterday, the portal had published a photograph of Himanta Biswa Sarma embracing his minor daughter in his home. But in a mischievous manner, the portal had claimed that the minister was with an unknown woman, thereby making a serious allegation against him. Following the news report, the photograph was widely shared on social media by other users, questioning the character of Mr Sarma.
When a social media user had pointed out the rumours being spread, Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted, “Kindly tell her that the little girl in picture is my daughter”.
After the false allegation went viral on social media, especially on Facebook, the police stepped in to contain it. As informed by ADGP of Assam Police GP Singh, the two journalists have been arrested under section 509 of the IPC (intending to insult the modesty of any woman), read with section 14 and 21 of the POCSO Act, as the minister’s daughter is minor. The police have taken them in custody to investigate the conspiracy behind airing such malicious news.
Apart from Taufiquddin Ahmad and Iqbal of Pratibimba Live, police also have other persons who had further published or forwarded the photo with the same misleading claim. Puli Muchchary associated with a portal named Bodoland digital and Nang Noyonmoni Gogoi associated with Spotlight Assam have been detained by police in this regard. Along with them, social media users named Najrul Hussain, Najmul Haque and Mijul Ali have also been arrested, as per reports.
Warning everyone not to spreading such fake news under a conspiracy, GP Singh tweeted, “Action shall be taken against all persons irrespective of their place of residence who use any of the social media platforms to maliciously use such platforms for furthering this conspiracy.” He said that posting such pictures with malicious intention attracts provisions of POCSO Act, and Assam Police
would take strong action against all such attempts under stringent provisions of POCSO Act.
More people who had circulated the photo with the malicious claim may be arrested by the police.
After airing the malicious report, which they have deleted now, Pratibimba Live has now posted another report, offering apology for their original. However, ironically, they blamed others for spreading the false claim. They reported that people are trying to malign the minister by making the photograph viral on social media.
The portal begged forgiveness for their ‘unintentional mistake’, and claimed that perhaps someone with vested interested circulated this photograph of the minister with his daughter.