Published: 06th January 2020
The WhatsApp saga surround JNU attack: Are those viral texts true or false? Here's the truth
Screenshots of messages from different WhatsApp groups, about JNU violence on Sunday, are going viral on social media platforms. But are they legitimate or are they made up
Soon after 'masked goons' beat up the students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday night, screenshots of WhatsApp groups that allegedly instigated the violence were circulated widely on social media platforms. The messages were purportedly sent majorly on two WhatsApp groups, titled 'Unity against left' and 'Friends of RSS'.
When we crosschecked the numbers of the members of the first group, it was found that the group was founded by Yogendra Bharadwaj, ABVP JNUSU Joint Secretary Candidate 2017-18. There were also several other members from other student political parties. A few named we could identify were Ayush Verma, Onkar Shrivastava, Ubaid and Anand Mangnale. The numbers were all switched off. A screenshot from the second group shows Bharadwaj inviting the members to join the first one.
Bharadwaj was not reachable and had deactivated his social media handles since the message had gone viral. Therefore, we contacted the ABVP's Delhi unit for a comment on the same. ABVP Delhi State Secretary Siddharth Yadav, who agrees that hate-mongering and violence instigation must be condemned tells us that the group also has more than 20 activists from left organisations. "These sort of messages were never shared in any official ABVP group. Also, why would a group called 'Unity against left' have these many left activists?" he asked. However, he said that he is unaware of Bharadwaj creating the group and that only Bharadwaj can answer why he had created it. Onkar Shrivastava is believed to be a JNU ABVP member, who was a witness against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya during the 2016 incident.
We also contacted another member of the group who said that he doesn't belong to any student political organisation. On condition of anonymity, he says, "I was added to the group by a friend and stayed as a member to know who was propagating hate. We could see how the members from the ABVP and the RSS had instigated violence and were asking people to go ahead and beat up students." He also said that the ABVP has to be called out for spreading false narratives about the event.
Another member of the group, Anand Mangnale was identified by a few Twitter users as someone who was associated with an Indian National Congress campaign. Accepting to be a part of the group, Anand wrote on his Facebook wall that he had infiltrated the group to find out what was happening. "I have this number added in a few RW groups to keep a track on its activities. I joined this 'Unity Against Left' group too, to keep track on it," he wrote.