Published: 06th January 2020
Here's why Anand Mangnale infiltrated a 'right-wing' WhatsApp group
Screenshots of WhatsApp messages in the group 'Unity against left' were being circulated widely
After the screenshots of WhatsApp groups that allegedly instigated the violence were circulated, the social media users were quick to search for the names of the members. One of them belonged to Anand Mangnale, a freelance researcher.
Truecaller and Google searches showed that the number was linked to a crowdfunding campaign linked to the Indian National Congress. All of a sudden, there was a new narrative circulated on social media — the violence was instigated by the Congress. Soon, hashtags like #LeftAttacksJNU and #LeftTerror started to trend.
Anand was quick to clear the air. He uploaded a status on his Facebook profile saying that he had added himself to the group using an invite link to keep track of the right wing and its activities. "It was an urgent situation, where this was needed to get whatever information I could and pass on to students to keep them safe. So did it. It might be hasty, but I felt the situation required it," he wrote.
A few hours after uploading the status, Anand tells us that he has been receiving a number of threats via WhatsApp. "People have been calling me a traitor and a lot of other names," he says, adding that he is not scared. "I just did the right thing. I have a lot of friends in JNU and I wanted to make sure that they are fine. I was also part of a few other right-wing groups and I received the invite link through one of them," he says.
One of the screenshots shows Anand saying, "VC apna hai," which translates to "The Vice-Chancellor is ours (right wing's)." He tells us the motive behind this. "After a while, there was no information about what was going on. I had to make sure that the students are safe. So, I tried instigating them by messaging this," he says. "But, when they got to know my identity, I knew it was safe to come clean," he says.
Anand also says that he's not a member of the Congress party. "I had only helped them set up a crowdfunding campaign. My number was used to test the campaign. But, they have forgotten to remove it," he says.
After the events, Anand's Twitter account was also locked.