Why Delhi Police Didn’t Generate Hash Value After Seizing My Cellphone?
Having recovered from COVID-19, around 15:45 pm, on 22nd January 2022, two police personnel from the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police knocked on my door. I was deep asleep, amid the recent chaos. They had come home to investigate my whistleblowing activity, which went viral on Twitter on 17th January 2022, garnering 600,000 views with 30,00,000 impressions.
On the ClubHouse app, a group of saffronized youth were audaciously leading an audio chat titled “Muslim gals are more beautiful than Hindu gals,” wherein comments passed were:
1. “In my opinion, this topic is wrong because, at the end of the day, all Muslim girls are Hindus in the end. How can you compare?”
2. “When we do ghar wapsi (conversion) when RSS bhakts like us take Muslim women, they will become Hindu women.”
3. “Did you know that if we hit a Muslim vagina, our sins will be washed away? Has anyone else heard this?”
4. “In the last panel, one guy said that if you are hitting a ‘pink pussy,” you will get the same blessings as building seven temples.”
5. “I’d like to test this. Is there a Muslim woman here?”
6. “You get as many blessings as you would for destroying the Babri Masjid”
7. “Hindu women’s pussy is black, unlike Muslim women’s pussy, which is pinkish.”
The upper-caste users, in that audio chat, were impudently passing lewd, sexist, and racist remarks against Muslim girls. This Islamophobic pattern, on social media, is immensely stunning, and this hate chat on ClubHouse came during the cacophony of the Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai case, where selfies and personal pictures of hundreds of Muslim women were doxed, doctored, and auctioned online.
The lackadaisical attitude of Delhi Police in arresting the criminals involved in Sulli Deals (July 2021), inspired the Bulli Bai case (January 2022). Had Mumbai Police not acted fast in arresting the accused in the Bulli Bai case, Delhi Police must not have mustered in arresting the accused in Sulli Deals? This question still bothers me. With all due respect to Delhi’s Police contemporary approach towards right-wing activists like Komal Sharma and Nupur Sharma, I am yet to know why it took 6 months for Delhi Police to arrest the accused in the Sulli deals case?
The avoidance of the Delhi Police in the Sulli Deals case did not indelibly deter the Bulli Bai case or the Clubhouse hate chat case. The lethargic attitude of the Delhi Police is responsible for this pattern, in an era of virulent Hindutva. Even, in the case of ClubHouse Hate Chat that I whistleblowed, a chargesheet till date has not been filed by the Delhi Police? In fact, the accused involved in ClubHouse Hate Chat (January 2022) were arrested by Mumbai Police, despite Delhi Police’s so-called interrogation.
The ClubHouse Hate Chat issue, on Twitter, was amplified when Twitteratis tagged DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal, who has an affiliation with AAP. She sent notice to the Delhi Police and asked for legal developments, which led to the filing of an FIR, in this matter. Also, I was expecting NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma to proactively act, in this matter, but after observing her series of older tweets leaning towards BJP, then I realized ‘skin in the game’ does matter politically.
With unconditional cooperation from my end until 23:45 p.m. on the day Delhi Police knocked on my door for interrogation, my cellphone that whistleblowed the toxic conversation was seized. I was stunned at this gesture. Nowhere I lied, nor fabricated any confession. They also did not generate a hash value, during the seizure. I was not given a search warrant or any cloned data from my cellphone, either legally or informally. Without a hash value, my cellphone is at risk, and thus there are zero guarantees that a seized cellphone cannot be misused. The hashed or cloned data is generated during the seizure so that tempering does not take place and nothing is deleted from or added to it.
Very recently, while raiding the founder, editor, and journalists of The Wire, Delhi Police seized their laptops, cellphones, and other electronic devices without hash value. Amit Malviya, leader of the BJP’s IT cell, had lodged the FIR after The Wire recently reported claiming that Meta — the parent company of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram — had given certain privileges to him that he could use to take down posts that he thought were critical of the BJP. The investigative reports were later retracted. The FIR alleges that the news portal “forged documents to malign and tarnish” his reputation.
With regards to such standpoint experiences for dissenting, it’s high time to not just “sensitize” the police force but also bring about “neutrality” in the functions and orientation of police personnel. I speak for myself, and I am genuinely upset at the way Delhi Police dealt with me. Nowhere in our democracy, luckily as of now, is whistleblowing a crime, and it never should be. I care for my nation when it is being systematically sanitized with the maxims of a “new” India.
Had social empathy been the cultural norm of communities across “new” India, democracy’s fate would not have witnessed the saffronization of Indian youth with such impunity! Yes, sadly, we’re here to say that we’ve seen an increment of hate crimes by 300% in a span of 7 years, followed by NCRB data from 2019–20 and 2020–21 confirming that India is unsafe for Dalit and tribal girls. Dystopia at its peak!
The health of India’s social capital is heading towards an ICU-like situation because it is unchecked. The culture of accountability, the dearth of judicial activism, crony capitalism, jingoism, casteist slurs, misogyny, and the mainstream media’s (aka godi media) vulturism are turning out to be the best-cum-worst recipes to sustain the attitude of degrading the constitution’s preamble, decent nodes, moral conversations, netiquette, brotherhood, exogamy, and the spirit of patriotism.
The youth, which comprises a huge demographic, amid the challenges posed in the last two years due to the pandemic, have not only lost their jobs (as of December 2021, 53 million Indians are unemployed) and mental health but have also become ‘too vulnerable’ to saffronization. As we have seen in the cases of Sulli deals, Bulli bai, and Clubhouse hate chat, the accused/criminals are as young as 15 years old and between 18 and 22 years old, and one admitted that watching one of the Godi media TV channels crooked his cognition. Holistically, this ‘manufacturing of hate’ proportionally benefits the oppressor, and this ‘construction of otherization’ is being administered to proliferate and disseminate social apathy at the structure’s bottom.
After the seizure by the Delhi Police, I was stressed and apprehensive. I took a few therapies to help my “mental health” get rid of those triggering ClubHouse hate chats, as it was not easy to post them, to be surrounded by journalists for the bytes, to be gaslighted by neighbors, and to delete the hate chats being constantly received from saffronized users in my Twitter DM. I did fear for myself, for my family, and for my job, but it takes everything to stay individuated against the patriarchal hydra of hate, islamophobia, and casteism.