The ministry of home affairs has said that Congress supporter and so-called RTI activist Saket Gokhale misquoted replies to his RTI queries with an ulterior motive and malicious intent. The ministry said that Gokhale uses reply to a different RTI query to claim that the ministry has no information on bomb factories in West Bengal. MHA issued the statement after several media houses published reports based on Gokhale’s claims.
Gokhale had filed an RTI query to find whether the claims made by Home Minister Amit Shah was true or not. In a TV interview in October 2020, Amit Shah had said that there re “bomb-making factories in every district” in West Bengal. Gokhale had filed a RTI query in October 2020 seeking details of these illegal bomb-making factories from the home ministry. He furnished four questions in the query, where he wanted a district wise list of the factories, whether official briefing on such factories were given to the union home ministry, whether the home minister’s statement was based on official inputs, and whether a list of such bomb making factories has been shared with the West Bengal government.
Breaking:— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) March 9, 2021
In Oct, Home Minister @AmitShah gave an interview to CNN News18 where he claimed "there are bomb-making factories in every district of West Bengal".
So, I filed a 4-point RTI seeking the source of Home Minister's comments.
And this is where it gets shocking.
On 9th March, Saket Gokhale tweeted that he has received the reply for his RTI application, and claimed that the MHA has said that they don’t have the information he had sought. He also posted a screenshot of the reply, which said that the ministry does have the information on the point numbers 1 to 3 in the RTI query. The MHA reply also states that ‘police’ and ‘police order’ are state subjects, and the state police is the first responder in any criminal/terrorist activity. Therefore, the ministry had written that Gokhale can seek the information from states/union territories.
I'd asked for— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) March 9, 2021
(1) a list of the bomb making factories in Bengal referred to by Amit Shah
(2) Whether MHA had briefed Shah about this
(3) Whether Shah's remarks were based on official records
The Home Ministry's answer is NO. They claim they don't have any such info.
Saket Gokhale also claimed that while he had asked four questions, MHA referred to only three. Therefore, he concluded that no bomb factories exist in West Bengal as he had asked whether MHA had shared the list of factories with the WB government. He called the union home minister a liar, claiming that there are no bomb factories in West Bengal and Amit Shah was giving false information.
However, now the Home Ministry has said that it is Saket Gokhale who is lying, as he is using the MHA response to a different RTI query to paint the home minister as liar. They have said that Saket Gokhale had filed an RTI application in January, which had three questions seeking details of involvement of Khalistani organizations in farmer’s protest. The MHA reply that Gokhale posted on 9th March was for this RTI query, and not for the West Bengal bomb factories.
Home ministry said that they had received two online RTI applications from Gokhale on the Khalistani issue, one directly and the other through Department of legal affairs, and they had replied to this query on 3rd March. The home ministry also said that Saket Gokhale deliberately masked the reference numbers of his queries, so that he can link the query to his West Bengal question.
MHA says that its reply clearly states the reference numbers of the RTI applications, MHOME/R/T/21/00110 and MHOME/R/E/21/00149 and their date 12 January 2021, making it clear that they were replying to the query seeking details of Khalistanis involved in farmer protests. However, Gokhale masked the reference number from the RTI reply when he posted the same on Twitter.
The minister further informed that they have not received the query dated 18th October, 2020 regarding the bomb factories, and has not replied to the same.
The Home Ministry has said that Gokhale did this with an ulterior motive and malicious intent. They said that he linked the reply to a different query with malicious intent of misleading public and spreading lies and canard on social media platform.
Even though Saket Gokhale redacted the reference number in the RTI reply, it still shows that MHA had received the RTI query on 17th February. Therefore, is safe to assume that they were responding to a query filed recently. Moreover, the reply cited three queries, whereas Saket’s application on bomb factories had four questions. MHA clarification states that his query on Khalistanis had three specific questions, and thus the reply mentions 3 questions.
Gokhale’s claim that MHA didn’t reply the fourth question because there are no bomb factories in West Bengal does not make sense at all. Because his other questions also refer to bomb factories only.
The full statement issued by the home ministry is given below:
There have been some reports in the media quoting tweets of Shri Saket Gokhale about an RTI reply by MHA. Shri Gokhale has misrepresented the facts while tweeting with a malicious intention. The fact of the matter is that CPIO CTCR Division, MHA received two online RTI applications from Shri Gokhale; vide HOME/R/T/21/00110 and HOME/R/E/21/00149 dated 12th Jan 2021, one in MHA and other one from Department of Legal affairs respectively. Shri Gokhale, vide both the above mentioned applications had asked for information on three specific points related inter-alia to the involvement of Khalistani organizations in farmer’s protest. The CPIO, MHA, replied to him on 3rd March 2021, vide letter no 17011/01/2020/CT-1. Shri Gokhale through his tweets, dated 9th March 2021, misquoted the reply of the CPIO. To buttress his claim, Shri Gokhale linked the copy of reply of CPIO with a different application, purportedly made on 18th October 2020 on another subject altogether which was neither received by this particular CPIO, MHA nor replied by him. In the reply CPIO MHA, had clearly mentioned the reference numbers MHOME/R/T/21/00110 &MHOME/R/E/21/00149 and date of RTI application (12th Jan 2021), so that there remained no doubt and ambiguity regarding the RTI application being replied. With an ulterior motive & malicious intent Sh Gokhale in his tweets, deliberately obliterated reference no. of RTI reply, while linking this reply with his earlier application dt. 18/10/20 with malicious intent of misleading public & spread lies & canard on social media platform
While the Congress supporter is working hard to somehow prove that there in bomb factories in West Bengal ruled by TMC, a party his Congress is contesting in the assembly elections, no RTI question is needed to see what is open in the air. Devastating explosions have taken places in several illegal bomb factories in West Bengal. Crude bombs are recovered from various persons and party workers, and even from political party offices very regularly. Crude bombs have also been used in political violence in the state. Therefore, what Amit Shah said was true, there are bomb factories in West Bengal.