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Ahmedabad: Vadodara man held for ‘circulating’ fake lockdown circular on social media

The fake circular had stated that number of Covid-19 patients have been rising in the state and the ongoing night curfew has not had any effect, therefore a complete lockdown has been announced for six cities-Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar- from April 11 to April 17.

The Gujarat government has announced a night curfew in 20 cities and towns from 8 pm to 6 am till April 30. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)

A 55-year-old man was arrested Sunday from Dabhoi in Vadodara rural for allegedly circulating on social media a fake government circular announcing lockdown in six cities of Gujarat for a week.

According to police, the accused was identified as Javed Khatri, a native of Dabhoi in Vadodara rural, who was held by a team of Dabhoi police station on Sunday morning from his residence.

According to police, Javed is employed in fabrication work. However, police are yet to find out the alleged culprit who created the morphed government circular.

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“We have arrested the accused, Javed Khatri, from his residence today and further investigation is being carried out by the Dabhoi police,” said Sudhir Kumar Desai, Superintendent of Police, Vadodara rural.

A fake notification order bearing the name and signature of Pankaj Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) of Home Department, surfaced on social media on April 9.

Read |India Covid-19 second wave: States that have announced night curfews, weekend lockdowns

The fake circular had stated that number of Covid-19 patients have been rising in the state and the ongoing night curfew has not had any effect, therefore a complete lockdown has been announced for six cities-Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar- from April 11 to April 17.

The circular further stated that only emergency services will be allowed to continue in the lockdown period and those who wish to enter the six cities must take the permission of respective collectors.

“A letter from the home department of Gujarat government that has surfaced on social media is absolutely fake and the public should not be misled by it (sic).”, read the statement from Home Department, Gujarat government on April 9.

Currently both minister of state (MOS) Home Pradipsinh Jadeja and ACS Pankaj Kumar are down with coronavirus.

After the fake photo surfaced, the state government had asked the Gujarat Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia to start an investigation in the matter after which the case was first given to the state cyber crime cell.

JM Waghela, police inspector, Dabhoi police station, told The Indian Express, “The accused Javed Khatri had claimed that he received the circular on his phone from somewhere and he then shared it on social media. However, we probed the matter and spoke to the Facebook company which told us that it was through Javed’s FB profile that the fake circular was first shared. We have booked the accused under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act for false warning. Further investigation is on in this case.”

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