Ropar-based journalist Amrit Pal Singh ‘Bunty’ got the shock of his life when he was sent the picture of a revolver and a holster with eight bullets on WhatsApp from an unknown number.
The journalist, who has been working with Punjabi daily Ajit for the last decade, writes on several issues of corruption in the area. He recently wrote reports on illegal sand mining in Purkhali village, where sand mining is rampant.
On November 16, at 9.28p.m., he received an innocuous ‘Hello’ message which he responded to in Punjabi, only a couple of days later. On November 22, he was taken aback to receive the picture!
He immediately called the number to ask who the sender was and why he was sending him a picture of a revolver and bullets! The number belonged to someone who identified himself as Manjit Singh.
‘Bunty’ told FSC that Manjit Singh fumbled at getting a call from him and said the picture was sent by a child by mistake! “As if kids go around sending pictures of revolvers to anyone,” Bunty said. He quickly contacted Ropar Press Club to apprise them of the message. He also filed a complaint with the Sadar police station.
But it didn’t look like the issue was being taken very seriously by the police. Here’s what the SHO had to say, when FSC contacted him:
“No no, I don’t think kids will send any revolver pictures. Manjit Singh is from Amritsar.It could have been sent by mistake.”
Was the sender a ‘goonda’, as the journalist claimed?
“No no, we don’t have any goondas in Ropar. Its a very peaceful place. Very safe. No crime at all”.
In any case, pressed with a complaint by the journalist, the SHo said an FIR was lodged (no. 116) and the case would be investigated. The charges were Sec 66 of the Information Technology Act and Sec 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
(Sec 66 of the IT Act: Computer related offences. -If any person, dishonestly or fraudulently, does any act referred to in section 43, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.
Sec 43: damage to computer system, unauthorised hacking into a computer system
Sec 506 IPC: Punishment for criminal intimidation)
Incidentally, Ropar is a hotbed of illegal mining. In February this year, the National Green Tribunal pulled up the Punjab government for the destruction of the Sutlej river bed. And here’s a list of recently published articles from newspapers on the mining menace in Ropar:
Mining mafia still active in Ropar: Cong – The Tribune
Illegal mining still on in Ropar – The Tribune
In Ropar, illegal mining takes a toll on groundwater – India Environmental portal