A day after a complaint regarding forgery, impersonation and identity fraud was lodged after a furniture maker named Kunal Merchant had claimed to have received an e-mail from the Prime Minister’s office, he is yet to make further comments on the issue. Instead, Kunal Merchant has started blocking people on social media who has been countering him on his claim of refusing to design a table for the PM.
In an Instagram story, Merchant had claimed that he was contacted by a PMO official named Vivek Kumar asking him to design a table for use by the current and future PM. However, he had said that he had refused the offer, accusing the Modi govt and ‘fascism’ and ‘atrocities against Muslims’. He had posted the screenshots of the so called PMO email and his reply in his Instagram story. His claims on Instagram were subsequently published by Islamist publication Siasat.
However, soon after that it was revealed that the PMO didn’t contact Merchant to build a table, and the mail purportedly received by him was fake. The Delhi Police Commissioner had tweeted yesterday to inform that the police have received a complaint regarding forgery, impersonation and identity fraud of an office bearer at the Prime Minister’s Office. The police had also informed that a probe has been launched in the matter.
It is interesting to note that in the screenshots, the so-called mail from PMO was signed by Vivek Kumar, Private Secretary to the PM. However, in his rely, Merchant had addressed him as the Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. According to the PMO website, Vivek Kumar is actually the private secretary of PM, and there is no additional principal secretary with that name.
It raises the question of how can one get the designation of a senior govt official wrong while sending an e-mail to that official.
After it was revealed that Merchant was not contacted by the PMO to make any furniture, he deleted his Instagram story. But he has refrained from issuing any clarifications on the matter. Reportedly, the police have contacted him and will examine his devices to find the source of the email sent to him.
After the matter came to light, many social media users accused Merchant of behind the entire incident. They alleged that it was an PR exercise, and he himself had sent the email to himself impersonating the PMO official. However, after people started targeting him over the issue, he has started blocking them on social media instead of refuting the allegations.
While it is certain that the mail was forged – govt issues public tenders for procurement, not over email to individuals – it is not certain who had forged it. It is possible that someone played a prank on Kunal Merchant and sent him the email, and the allegation that he himself did it also can be possible. The fact behind the mail will be known after the probe by the Delhi police.