The Cyber Crime Branch of Ahemdabad police on Thursday arrested a man on the charge of forgery and morphing a confidential letter of additional commissioner of police, special branch to fuel communal hatred.
The accused has been identified as Rajesh Sarang, 53, a native of Manjalpura, Vadodara. He runs a mobile repairing shop.
According to a news report in TOI, Sarang somehow managed to get hold of the confidential letter that was meant to be an internal communication between police stations to put a check on hate messages from circulating.
Sarang then morphed the content of the letter to suggest that Nizammudin Markaz of Delhi has sent thousands of Muslim across the country to spread novel coronavirus.
"On March 13, 2020 — Nizamuddin Markaz had gathered about 2,500 Muslim foreigners who were corona positive and sent them to different states in India to spread the disease as a terrorist attack," the content as mentioned in the edited letter published by Times of India.
The edited version of the letter also asked state residents to not buy anything from Muslim vendors in case they happen to sell essential commodities like vegetables, milk etc, as coronavirus positive Muslims patients "spit on the roads in areas of a particular community to spread the disease as part of their terror activities."
The police on receiving the tip, alerted the force to look out for such posts that were doing rounds on social media.
After the investigation into the matter, police Inspector V B Barad said, Sarang had falsely edited the letter and made it look like an original letter issued by the police.
The police did search out the IP address through which the post was made and circulated. It turned out to be made from Sarang's device after which he was arrested from his house in Vadodara.
Ever since the news of COVID-19 positive cases in the attendees of Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi emerged in late March, there has been an uptick in cases where Muslims are being blamed for spreading coronavirus in the country.
The misconception has been reinforced as the majority of confirmed cases were found to have a link with Markaz or those who attended it. However, believing Muslims and more specifically Markaz attendees to be responsible for spreading the disease is highly misleading.
The higher number of positive cases among the jamtis is also due to the fact that that group has been specifically tested for the virus whereas the health authorities are randomly testing elsewhere. That is understandable as there are not enough kits to tests people on a larger scale.
However, the government along with the private sector is trying to procure more kits and conduct further tests. The supreme court has also asked the government to ensure coronavirus tests are conducted for free in both state-run and private diagnostic labs in the country.
While the COVID-19 tests are free in government hospitals, private labs are charging Rs 4,500 per test.
So far 6039 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been found in India with over 206 deaths reported according to the Ministry of Health ad Family welfare.