Indian Information & Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu (l), Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi (r), and other MPs come out Parliament House in New Delhi, Nov. 30. (Kamal Singh/PTI)
After hacking Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter and email accounts twice in as many days, hackers broke into Congress Party’s account, Dec. 1, and posted profanities, prompting the party to blame it on “fascist” forces, a term it uses for BJP, which hit right back saying it showed the main opposition party’s “mental bankruptcy.” – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #India #Twitter #RahulGandhi #INC #CongressPartyofIndia @INCIndia #OfficeOfRG
Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account was hacked, Nov. 30, and some obscene remarks were put out online for around an hour. On Dec. 1, his email was also hacked, the party claimed.
Blaming “fascist” forces for the hacking, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “it reflects the extremities of an intolerant culture that resorts to abuse when cornered and claimed the party has fought such “hatred and animosity” with Gandhian compassion and tolerance.
BJP hit back at Congress for pointing fingers at it and its supporters, saying it showed the opposition party’s “mental bankruptcy” as it blamed the main ruling party for everything that went against it.
“We absolutely reject the charge. It only shows Congress’ bankruptcy that it blames BJP for everything. When court asked their leaders to appear in National Herald case it blamed BJP, when summons were issued later it still blamed BJP, and now it is blaming BJP for something completely unrelated to the party,” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
He demanded that Congress tender an apology for making such a “baseless” allegation.
The hacking of the Congress Vice President’s Twitter account led to launch of twin probes by the Delhi Police and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) following a complaint by the party.
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the matter is being taken very “seriously” and prompt action has been taken. “We are seeking the details of all those who logged in that twitter account in the last one week to probe it further.”
The Congress filed a complaint with the Cyber cell of Delhi Police on the hacking of the two twitter accounts, the party website and the email accounts of Congress and Rahul Gandhi. The complaint was filed by Surjewala, demanding registration of a criminal case and strict action against those behind the hacking.
The Delhi police, on its part, initiated a probe into the incident and has written to the management of the social media site seeking necessary details. A case has been registered in the Economic Offences wing under Section 66 of IT Act.
Sources at Twitter, however, said there was no security breach at their end, but the accounts may have been compromised through breach of e-mail.
Surjewala confirmed that first @OfficeOfRG and then @INCIndia twitter accounts were hacked by “lumpen fascists.”
Surjewala said he has filed a complaint on behalf of Congress to Delhi police and said the onus is on Modi government to ensure digital security and punish the guilty.
“Free speech and right to disagree in India is under attack by licensed trolls. Such despotic and vulgar attempts reflect the extremities of an intolerant culture that resorts to abuse when cornered and left answer less,” Surjewala said.
“Indian National Congress has fought such hatred and animosity with Gandhian compassion and tolerance. ‘Sabko sanmati de bhagwaan’ (May God give better sense to all),” he said on Twitter.
“As far twitter account of Rahul Gandhi is concerned, when it came to my notice, I took it very seriously. Twitter representative of India was contacted and all offending tweets were removed,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
While raising the issue, Congress sought to caution the Modi government over its pitch for shifting to online banking transactions following concern over digital safety.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel tweeted, “The way @OfficeOfRG a/c got hacked, as cybercrime and Twitter watched helpless raises serious Q’s on digital safety, Digital India future.”
“Those forcing country to adopt online payment overnight, have they taken steps to ensure a/c of ordinary ppl will be immune from hacking?,” he said.
Later, in a statement, Surjewala said,”Time has come for Modi government, which speaks of cashless economy, to ponder over these important imponderables that have exposed the susceptibility of the entire digital financial platforms. We sincerely hope that Modi government will provide the relevant answers to people of India.”
The statement dubbed as a “predetermined conspiracy” and systematic attack on free speech and right to disagree the hacking of its Twitter account and of Rahul Gandhi and raised questions on the safety of the entire digital payment network as also of privacy.
“Every right thinking Indian is shocked by such despotic and vulgar attempts, which reflect the extremities of a growing intolerant culture around us that resorts to abuse and insult every time it lacks answers to the questioned raised by those who disagree with their point of view,” Surjewala said in the statement.
BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma too issued a statement, saying Congress should understand that if the twitter account of Rahul Gandhi or the party has been hacked, the fault lies with Twitter’s security feature and not with BJP.
“Congress should desist from such petty politics or after losing people’s support it will now fall in their eyes,” he said.
Surjewala also said the Indian National Congress’ internal email server is under a sustained hacking attack because of which some of our Twitter accounts were compromised.
“Twitter has restored access for some of them and is working with us in keeping the accounts safe. We are taking necessary measures to stop this hack in the earnest,” he said in a statement.
Why Rahul Gandhi or the Congress techies did not enforce a two-factor authentication at the first instance of hacking is anybody’s guess. It is usually a norm and a good way to stop further damage, just saying.