Cyber crime: Fake Facebook page haunts minority member

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Maharaj Grish Kumar is a man in distress. Someone has created a fake Facebook page of a prominent Sindh-based politician and they are pasting his phone number on inappropriate status updates.

“My life is under threat,” said 44-year-old Kumar, as he appealed to the authorities to take action against the culprits. “Anyone can kill me thinking that I am posting those hate messages. I have nothing to do with that fake account.” Kumar, who lives in Tando Jan Muhammad, district Mirpurkhas, has been the caretaker of the Sant Narain Das Mandir.

On Tuesday, he came to Karachi to file a complaint with the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cyber Crime Cell. He also went to Bilawal House and submitted another application to request the politician to take action against the fake account being run in his name. Kumar also made his way to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) office in Saddar, where he sat worried.

“I have never used Facebook. I don’t even own a computer. I don’t know who’s doing this to me,” he said, nervously playing with the red and yellow threads tied on his arm.

It was eight months ago that the anonymous user first gave out Kumar’s number on the Facebook page, referring to him as his personal assistant. “I would get calls all the time from people who would ask for jobs. They all thought that I was the politician’s secretary.”

But over the last two months, hate messages are being uploaded on the page with Kumar’s name, number and address. The resulting phone calls and text messages Kumar receives are now intimidating and abusive. “People threaten me. They say that if I don’t stop posting such things, they will kill me. They call me all sorts of names.”

He filed an application in the district court in Mirpurkhas and went to the police station in Tando Jan Mohammad but the authorities have yet to take action.

Back home, his community is already living in fear as recent attacks on temples in nearby villages have stirred tension. For 60 years, his family has been the guardians of the temple. “This year, we celebrated Holi with simplicity,” said Kumar, who teaches Maths to grade 10 students in a government school.

In his village, there are 400 Hindu families living among the Muslims. “We have always lived in peace but we feel afraid now.”

And in this perplexing situation, Kumar fears that a conflict could break out between the Hindus and the Muslims. “Any extremist reading those statuses would come straight for me. I want legal action against the person who is doing all this to me.”

HRCP’s Abdul Hai said that it was alarming as the miscreants were trying to create unrest. “Minorities are now being framed on social media. This should be taken notice of.”

Meanwhile, an official of the FIA who deals with Cyber Crime confirmed that Kumar’s application has been received in Islamabad. He promised to look into the matter.

For the time being, Kumar’s family, which includes his parents, wife and four children, want him to hold a press conference and inform the public that he has nothing to do with the account. “People have told me to switch off my phone but I have kept it on so that I can know from the phone calls what the person is updating.”

Kumar has also told the owner of a cyber café in his area to keep him informed of the status updates. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at times. But this is a torture for me.”

Express Tribune