Union Home Ministry, in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Saket Gokhale, has revealed that it does not have any information on bomb factories in West Bengal.
Home minister Amit Shah, in a television interview in October 2020, had said that there are "bomb-making factories in every district in Bengal." Speaking on the poll-bound state, Shah had said that law and order had "gone for a toss in" in Bengal.
Transparency activist Saket Gokhale had sought information through an RTI request about bomb factories in West Bengal. The activist had asked for "(1) A list of bomb-making factories district-wise in Bengal as referred to by Amit Shah (2) Whether MHA had briefed Shah about this (3) Whether Shah's remarks were based on official inputs/records by agencies and the ministry."
But the ministry replied to the RTI query saying that information on Shah's claim "is not available" with it. The Union home ministry also advised the activist to approach Bengal police to get the "factual information" as 'police' and 'public order' are state subjects.
"This blatant lying also happens because mainstream interviewers & reporters NEVER ask the ruling party to provide sources or facts to back their claims," the activist tweeted.
Gokhale called out the unwillingness of the government to disclose information and referred to it as "new India".
The ministry's RTI response shared on Twitter received reactions from netizens and the opposition. TMC MP Mahua Moitra called out the BJP for denting the image of West Bengal for electoral profits.
After Shah's remarks in October 2020, several BJP leaders had made similar claims.
BJP state president, Dilip Ghosh, in November 2020 had said, "Bomb manufacturing is the only industry here" and accused CM Mamata Banerjee of transforming Bengal into "second Kashmir".
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister's nephew and Diamond Harbour TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee had said that it was ironic that the government had data on bomb-making units in Bengal but no statistics on migrant labourers.
Last year, the union home ministry had in reply to an RTI query filed by Gokhale accepted that the "Ministry of Home Affairs has no information concerning tukde-tukde gang". The term, however, is still being widely used by BJP leaders and sections of the media to refer to those who are critical of the government.