Rajat Sharma


AKB30 DeepFake and fake videos made their entry into Lok Sabha elections on Monday, with Delhi Police filing a case of “doctoring” a video of Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech, and a Delhi Police team landed in Hyderabad for probe. The Chief Minister of Telangana Revanth Reddy was summoned by Delhi Police for questioning, while a Congress “war room” coordinator was arrested in faraway Assam. Two persons were arrested by Ahmedabad Police cyber crime wing on Tuesday, and one of them Satish Vansola is the personal assistant of Congress leader Jignesh Mevani. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep concern over use of DeepFake technology in elections and appealed to people to remain alert and not to forward unconfirmed videos on social media handles. A BJP delegation led by Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw met the Election Commission demanding action against those who “doctored” Amit Shah’s speech. On Tuesday, Amit Shah, addressing a press conference in Guwahati, blamed the Congress for preparing a fake video of his speech. “Their frustration has reached such a level that they have spread fake videos about me. Their chief minister, state president have forwarded this fake video, and now one of them is facing a criminal offence”. Amit Shah played both the real video of his speech and the doctored video before the media. While in the real video, Shah was shown as saying ‘reservation given to minorities unconstitutionally would be removed’, the fake video shows him as saying that ‘reservation for SC, ST and backward castes given unconstitutionally would be removed’. Since the doctored video was posted on the official X handle of Telangana Congress state unit, the Delhi Police team landed in Hyderabad and started checking electronic devices. Apart from Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, state Congress leaders Satheeh, Naveen, Shivashankar and Asma Taslim have also been served notices. All these persons have been asked to bring their cellphones and electronic gadgets for probe. A case under provisions relating to spreading communal disharmony has been filed under IPC and the Information Technology Act. Chief Minister Revanth Reddy alleged that BJP was now trying to use Delhi Police after from ED, CBI, and Income Tax to target opposition leaders. Revanth Reddy has been summoned by police not in his capacity as chief minister, but as president of state Congress unit. On Monday, in his election rallies in Bagalkote, Karnataka and Satara, Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of “a deep conspiracy” to spread tension during the elections by faking his voice and those of Amit Shah, J P Nadda and other leaders, with the help of Artificial Intelligence, to spread lies and light fire in society. Differentiating the real from the fake has now become very difficult in this age of Artificial Intelligence. One can understand imitation of voices of leaders in films and TV serials, but putting words in the mouths of leaders addressing huge election meetings, is a dangerous game. Almost every Indian today carries a cellphone, linked with WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. One fake, deepfake or doctored video can reach millions of people within seconds. People who get these fake videos on their phone, immediately forward them to their friends and WhatsApp groups, believing them to be true. This is a dangerous game for our vibrant democracy. People do not have the tools to check whether a video is true or fake. The least you can do is not to forward such fake videos, otherwise you and your friends may land in trouble. The Information Technology Act is quite stringent on this point. If you post or forward a fake video, you can land in jail. That is why Modi alerted people to remain cautious. As far as opposition leaders are concerned, it has become quite clear that Amit Shah’s speech video was doctored as part of a well-thought-out strategy. The moment the fake video went viral, Congress, Samajwadi Party and RJD leaders in UP, Bihar and Gujarat, started alleging that BJP has planned to amend the Constitution to end reservations for Dalits, tribals and backward castes. Their message was quite clear: caste-based reservation would end if Modi becomes PM for the third time. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi repeated this charge in his Monday rally in Patan, Gujarat. The same charge was repeated by SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav in his rallies in Agra and Etah, where he alleged that BJP, at the instance of RSS, wants to finish off caste-based reservation. RJD founder Lalu Prasad Yadav, campaigning for his daughter Rohini Acharya in Saran, Bihar, said the battle this time is not about formation of government, but for saving the Constitution and reservation. It was left to PM Modi to tell people in his rallies that ending reservation was out of the question and that he would protect reservation for Dalits, tribals and backward castes till his last breath. The Congress-led opposition is desperately trying to affix the label of “anti-reservation” on Modi and BJP this time. The circulation of Amit Shah’s fake video, and speeches of Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Prasad seem to be part of that calculated campaign. But people nowadays are quite aware. They know when a doctored video lands on their phone. They also know that no force in India can remove reservation, at any cost. They also know that this is not the “last election” as is being spread by the opposition. It was first floated by Lalu yadav, and Rahul Gandhi quite cleverly linked the “400 Paar” slogan of BJP with this charge, to say that Modi wants 400 LS seats in order to end reservation in Constitution. Nobody is going to believe this. Firstly, Modi has to stay in India, fight elections, Secondly, Modi’s track record during the last 23 years on the issue of OBC, Dalit, tribals has been quite clean. Modi has now counter-attacked. He has started alleging that the Congress wants to reduce OBC quota and give some of it to Muslims. Allegations and counter-allegations do take place during election, but preparing ‘doctored’ fake videos and spreading them in order to mislead voters and create disharmony is a crime. Strong action must be taken against such conspirators. Action must be taken not only against those who doctored the video, but it must be found out who ordered the ‘doctoring’ of this video and circulated it. I can only quote that film song: Yeh Public Hai, Sab Jaanti Hai.

Get connected on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Comments are closed.