After Maliwal’s Tweet on Grandfather’s Death, Copycat Posts From Other Handles Trigger A Row

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A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson alleged on Friday that a section of people, including politicians from the opposition camp, was using Twitter to tarnish the central government’s image in the wake of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that is battering India and has stretched the country’s health care system.

Sanju Verma, whose verified Twitter profile identifies her as a national spokesperson of the BJP, hit out at what she called a “pathetic bunch of lies” and said “#COVIDEmergency2021 is being used by few to besmirch the Modi Govt!” “Shameful how these Vultures are preying on a crisis,” her post said, using “#ToolKit”.

The hashtag used by Verma was a reference to a controversial toolkit, or online document, that was tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg early-February in support of a protest by farmers at Delhi’s borders. She deleted her post and tweeted an updated toolkit later.

The original toolkit allegedly documented plans for protests on January 26 — the day chaos descended upon the Capital as farmers clashed with police and took out rallies that violated government orders — as well as future demonstrations. It also allegedly detailed plans to draw international support for the farmers, who are protesting three laws that aim to usher in agricultural reforms. The toolkit indicated that the protests might be fuelled by vested interest groups, and also drew police action.

The immediate trigger for Verma’s tweet appeared to be copycat posts of what was shared by Swati Maliwal, the Delhi women’s commission chairperson, on Thursday.

“My nana died waiting for emergency support in front of Sharda Hospital Greater NOIDA. I kept standing there for half hour and pleading for admission and nothing happened. Shame! Pathetic!” Maliwal tweeted, announcing the death of her grandfather.

Complaints against the unavailability of beds and medical oxygen, a life-saving resource for critical Covid-19 patients, have poured in from different states with the onset of the brutal second wave, while the government has stressed that there is a need for everyone to pull in all available resources and work together as a unit to defeat the pandemic.

After Maliwal’s tweet, several posts mushroomed on Twitter — they were made from different handles — parroting the same words used by Maliwal to declare her personal tragedy. This made some Twitter users question the veracity of the posts and their improbable coincidence.

Sharing a screenshot of such identical tweets, Verma trained her guns on the “newly minted Nana brigade” involved in what she indicated was a misinformation campaign.

News18 has reached out to Twitter. This story will be updated when we receive a response.

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