KOLKATA: Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb’s officer on special duty (OSD) Sanjay Mishra has been ordered to appear before a Kolkata police officer investigating a case registered against him for allegedly spreading wrong data on Covid positivity rate, officials aware of the development said on Wednesday. Mishra has been summoned to the Narkeldanga police station on Thursday.
Mishra has been named in an FIR registered on November 3 that accuses him of violating seven sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act 2005. He received the summons via email on Wednesday. It asked Mishra to appear before the investigating officer, sub-inspector S Bandopadhyay, by noon.
Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act says: “Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.”
It is alleged that Mishra last month uploaded some data sheets and put out a post on Twitter that said the Covid positivity rate in Kolkata, according to the Union health ministry, was 7.74% on October 27.
Accusing Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders of spreading propaganda, Mishra wrote,”….Your party is spreading violence and communalism, that’s enough we don’t want you all to spread #Covid.”
According to the data uploaded on the West Bengal health department’s portal, which is shared with the Centre every day, the number of active cases in Kolkata on October 27 was 50 and four people died on that day.
The population of the city was 4,496,694 during the 2011 census.
A Kolkata Police officer, who did not want to be identified, said the case was lodged on the basis of a complaint lodged by a resident of Narkeldanga in the city’s eastern suburban region.
The summons sent to Mishra said, “…..it is revealed during investigation that there are reasonable grounds to question you to ascertain the fact and circumstances from you.”
Charges slapped against the officer under the IPC include forgery for the purpose of cheating, defamation, making assertions that cause religious disharmony and creating a public nuisance that causes injury or annoyance.
“Non-compliance of this notice may result in your arrest as per law,” said the summons which made news a day ahead of the Tripura civic body elections in which the Trinamool Congress is contesting many seats with an aim to form a base in the state before the 2023 assembly polls.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief spokesperson in Bengal, Samik Bhattacharya, said he had no idea why Mishra was charged. No TMC leader commented on the case.
Mishra was not available for comment. A senior Tripura government official, who did not want to be identified, said he did not know whether Mishra will appear before the Kolkata police on Thursday.
“He (Mishra) didn’t visit West Bengal in the past few months. This is strange. How can a case under Disaster Management Act be lodged against him there?” said the official.
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