India counterterror agency refutes claim about 'new hotline to report Muslims using violent slogan'

·3 min read

Twitter and Facebook posts shared hundreds of times claim that India's counterterrorism task force released a "special hotline number to report Muslims who call for the beheading of people who insult Islam", following protests over a ruling party official's controversial remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. The claim is misleading; the task force said it "has not issued any such message". The hotline number has existed for years to report on assorted terrorism cases.

The claim was posted on Twitter here on July 2, 2022, where it has been retweeted more than 1,200 times.

The Hindi-language post translates into English as: "NIA has released a number. A special number to report any terror threat on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. If a Muslim raises the slogan 'Sar Tan Se Juda' on a Facebook or Twitter comment or threatens you, take a screenshot of the post and contact this number -- 011-24368800."

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) is India's counterterrorism task force.

Screenshot of the misleading post, captured on July 18, 2022

The claim circulated weeks after Muslims chanted "Sar Tan Se Juda" -- Hindi for "cutting off the head from the body" -- in various parts of India in June 2022 as they protested against remarks by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokeswoman Nupur Sharma about the Prophet Mohammed.

On June 28, Indian police arrested two Muslim men after they beheaded a Hindu tailor on camera after he expressed support for Sharma online.

The claim has been shared more than 400 times after it was also posted on Twitter here and here; and on Facebook here, here and here.

However, the claim is misleading.

In a press release issued on July 7, 2022, the NIA refuted the claim about their hotline number.

"It has come to notice that certain misleading messages purportedly issued by NIA are being circulated on various social media platforms.

"Everyone is hereby informed that NIA has not issued any such message. Such messages are totally fake and malicious and are part of a mischievous design to mislead the public," it said.

The NIA's hotline number, 011-24368800, has existed for years and been used for the public to report various cases.

For example, it posted the hotline number in July 2021 when they were hunting for two suspects in an explosion outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi.

The tweet partly said: "if you see someone you recognize, submit tip at do.nia@gov.in, info.nia@gov.in, 011-24368800, 9654447345."

The number was also listed for members of the public to help capture Maoist leaders in June 2022, people "propagating ISIS ideology" in September 2021 and India's most wanted in October 2018.

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