Where Did Vicious Trolling of Maharashtra Govt After SSR’s Death Come From? 80,000 Fake Accounts

Social Commentary

Where Did Vicious Trolling of Maharashtra Govt After SSR’s Death Come From? 80,000 Fake Accounts

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The months that followed the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput at his home in Mumbai was a bad time for Mumbai Police. As conspiracy theories swirled about Rajput’s death, many dismissed Mumbai Police’s investigation, which confirmed the actor died by suicide, as a cover-up for something more sinister.

Now, nearly four months later, the Mumbai Police’s findings have been confirmed by a special team of doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Also, the flood of social media trolling Mumbai Police faced in the months that followed has been exposed as at least partially fuelled by fake accounts. The cyber unit of Mumbai Police found that over 80,000 fake accounts were created on various social media platforms to attack the investigation and discredit the state government.

A report in The Quint states that two First Information Reports have already been filed against multiple individuals for creating the fake accounts and using abusive and defamatory language against the Mumbai Police Commissioner and leaders in the Maharashtra government. Param Bir Singh, Mumbai Police Commissioner, said, “Our cyber cell is conducting a thorough investigation into this matter and all those found violating the law will be prosecuted under relevant sections of the Information Technology Act.”

As the AIIMS doctors appear to confirm the initial theory that Rajput committed suicide, it appears that not only were the accounts targeting the Mumbai Police fake but so were the theories that they were pushing. Despite the police as well as the doctors at Mumbai’s Cooper Hospital declaring Rajput’s death a suicide, false narratives continued to swirl and paint it is as something murkier. A study conducted at the University of Michigan found that it was leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the Opposition in Maharashtra’s state assembly, and pro-BJP channels like Republic TV that most aggressively pushed the murder-over-suicide angle. This was then amplified by a massive network of fake accounts.

Isn’t it ironic that a massive social media campaign nominally committed to finding out the truth was founded on fake news and fake accounts?