In Soup For Fake News, The Wire Gets Called Out For Calling News Contributor ‘Highly Disturbed Mentally’ In Police Complaint

In Soup For Fake News, The Wire Gets Called Out For Calling News Contributor ‘Highly Disturbed Mentally’ In Police Complaint

by Swarajya Staff - Wednesday, November 2, 2022 05:24 PM IST
In Soup For Fake News, The Wire Gets Called Out For Calling News Contributor ‘Highly Disturbed Mentally’ In Police ComplaintSnippet from the complaint by The Wire to the police

Controversial news portal The Wire, which recently pulled down two of its “investigative” reports on alleged digital manipulation of a big social media platform by a top official of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has written a complaint to the police against a news contributor behind the reports.

In the complaint, the portal has said that the contributor, Devesh Kumar, supplied them fabricated material and, to The Wire’s staff, Kumar “seemed highly disturbed mentally”.

The complaint by Editor of the portal Siddharth Varadarajan says that he is now fully aware of the fabrication and deception he [Kumar] engaged in against the portal but Kumar has not given the portal a reply to questions sent through email.

“…Devesh Kumar did call The Wire’s Product and Business Head Mithun Kidambi on the evening of October 27 to confess to fabricating all the material that was used in The Wire’s stories on Instagram and Meta referred to above.

"The impression Kidambi gathered was that Devesh Kumar seemed highly mentally disturbed,” says the complaint addressed to Special Commissioner of Police, Crime, New Delhi.

Varadarajan has asked the police to investigate Kumar for deceiving the portal through “fabricated” documents, emails and other material “with a view to damaging The Wire and its reputation”. 

Many social media users criticised the portal for using the phrase ‘mentally disturbed’ for a news contributor.

User Shefali Vaidya wrote, “All the self-appointed custodians of ‘free speech’ who were crying when @amitmalviya exercised his right to file a FIR for against #WireTheLiar are silent on @svaradarajan calling Devesh Kumar ‘mentally disturbed’ in his FIR! @dhanyarajendran @apar1984 @nit_set, why the silence?"

User Ajit Datta wrote, “From good work Devesh, to this is not about Devesh but about all of us, to Devesh's account is hacked, to Devesh might have misled us, to Devesh intentionally misled us, to Devesh is mentally disturbed, Varadarajan has really shown his class.“

Another user, S Sudhir Kumar, wrote, “Siddarth Varadarajan (SidV) claimed that Devesh Kumar was "highly disturbed mentally". After "triangulating" the timelines of SidV's tweets with the timeline he mentions in his police complaint, it is time to ask - Is it actually SidV who is "highly disturbed mentally"?”

The complaint came a day after BJP’s social media cell head Amit Malviya filed a first information report (FIR) against Varadarajan, the portal’s co-founders Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu, and deputy editor Jahnavi Sen for maligning his reputation by alleging that he manipulated Instagram.

The Wire’s report claimed that Malviya had special privileges to take down posts through an Instagram programme called X-Check, “no questions asked”. 

After publication of the report, top officials of Meta, the parent firm of Instagram, denied the allegations.

On 27 October, the portal retracted the Meta-Malviya report while apologising to the readers, saying they had been deceived by a member of its investigative team.

The same day, the portal withheld from public view a report it published in January, alleging that the BJP was using a mobile application named 'Tek Fog' to manipulate social media trends and send automated abuses to certain journalists and commentators. That report, too, had Kumar as a contributor.

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