The introduction of the Agneepath scheme has led to protests across the country. The Logical Indian Fact Check Team found several instances of misleading social media posts going viral in the context of the scheme.
Protests across several states in the country have led to a rapid spread of misinformation. In what is stated as an 'attempt to clamp down on social media culprits', the Centre has banned 35 WhatsApp groups for 'spreading misinformation regarding the Agnipath Recruitment scheme.
A tweet containing two screenshots has gone viral across social media. One of the screenshots shows a phone number being dialled with Truecaller's Caller ID flashing across the screen. The other screenshot shows a conversation in a WhatsApp Group. Several numbers can be seen in the WhatsApp conversation. One of the texts is highlighted and reads, "Ramadevi ki Chowki Fook Dete Hain" which translates to "Let's burn down Ramadevi Police Station". The marker with the WhatsApp message identifies the person as 'Ayush Thakur'
The viral social media posts claim that a person disguised their identity under the pseudonym Ayush whereas the actual name was Shami Aslam. This person had called for incinerating a police station in Kanpur Nagar, Uttar Pradesh in the context of the protests against the Agnipath scheme.
A Twitter user shared these screenshots and wrote a caption which reads in Hindi, "कानपुर में थाने को आग लगने की बात हो रही थी Msg में आयुष ठाकुर नाम दिख रहा है लेकिन truecaller पर शमी असलम बता रहा है @kanpurnagarpol कृपया तत्काल प्रभाव से संज्ञान में लिया जाए नही तो कुछ भी हो सकता है."
[English Translation: There was talk of a fire in the police station in Kanpur. The name Aayush Thakur is appearing in the message. But Truecaller shows Shami Aslam when the number was dialled @kanpurnagarpol (Official Twitter handle of Kanpur Nagar Police). Please take cognizance with immediate effect otherwise anything can happen.]
[Note: We have blurred the contact number keeping the privacy of the user in mind.}
We first conducted a keyword search to ascertain how Truecaller identifies numbers as belonging to a specific person. We came across a blog regarding how the online phone directory service's Caller ID function works.
We came across a blog on the company's official website published on 13 June 2022. Here, it is mentioned that the app asks permission from the user for integrating phonebook data with the app for a calling and messaging experience.
"The name connected to the number (if not suggested by users already) is done based on sources like user profiles and crowdsourcing of names." the blog states. An example is given below of how a name can get associated with a particular number if the number is saved to a particular name by the maximum number of users.
After ascertaining how names are associated with particular numbers, we conducted a keyword search across social media with the number that can be found in the viral posts.
On Twitter, we came across the following posts by user @Ayush52697511. In the posts, a person with the name Ayush is requesting actor and philanthropist Sonu Sood and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath for medical help. As per the user, his uncle's health was deteriorating and he urgently required a ventilator and treatment.
The user has included the contact number used in viral posts as his contact number in the tweets. In one of the tweets, he also mentions that he is from Ramadevi Chauraha in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
After conducting a keyword search with the contact number, we came across several blog posts and comments dating back to 2010 under an entirely different name. The username on these posts on different websites indicated that a Muslim individual had owned the number in 2010. We have blurred the names of the other person associated with this number but it can be ascertained that the number did not solely belong to the youth.
Apart from this, we compared the WhatsApp display picture and Twitter profile picture of the youth. We noticed several similarities such as similar beard design and ear structure which prompted us to ascertain that the youth in both the images was the same person. We also noticed the red sacred thread tied on the youth's wrist in the Twitter profile picture which indicates that he is from the Hindu community.
We searched across social media and came across the following statement by the Police Commissionerate of Kanpur Nagar. The police statement was uploaded on Twitter on June 18, 2022. The caption read as follows, "On a WhatsApp group, they were threatening to burn the police station/post and cause a nuisance in Kanpur Nagar. The social media monitoring team formed by the Police Commissionerate traced everyone before they could act. Five youths were arrested by the Commissionerate Police. Police are keeping a close watch on organized crime and miscreants."
The youths were arrested by the Chakeri police station when they had left their homes and reached the Harjendra Nagar intersection. The accused were identified as Bhupendra Yadav, aged 25 years, Ayush, age 20 years, Harsh Yadav (21 years), Amit Yadav, (21 years) and Raju Yadav (20 years). The arrested youths have been charged under several IPC sections.
We came across another tweet by the Police Commissionerate of Kanpur Nagar. This tweet was uploaded on June 17, 2022, and contains a video statement by the Additional Commissioner of Kanpur Nagar Police. In the statement, he says, "We have clarified the identities of all the youths who participated in the WhatsApp conversations. We are currently investigating the matter. Till then, we would appeal to all students to not get involved in such activities."
In our investigation, we found out that the contact number associated with Shami Aslam in the viral claim was associated with several individuals. We identified a youth named Ayush as the current user of the contact number, according to results on Twitter and the press statement issued by the Kanpur Nagar police.
We also found that the number was in use as far back as 2010 and was previously used by a person that belonged to the Muslim community. The name of this person is similar to Shami Aslam, as seen on Truecaller in the viral posts.
Truecaller Caller ID displays results based on its crowdsourcing software which lays emphasis on a maximum number of users saving the contact number under a particular name. The person who was currently using the contact number, Ayush, was preemptively arrested by the police before he or the persons in the WhatsApp group could vandalize the police station. Thus, we are able to ascertain that the claim in the social media posts is false due to a mismatched result on TrueCaller.
Alt News has first done fact-check of this claim. Click here to read.
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