A planned attack on Kerala’s disaster relief fund collection
The alarming reach of that voice clip by BJP social media co-ordinator Suresh Kochattil, asking people to not donate to the CM’s disaster relief funds as all the affected are “rich”, points to a massive organised campaign. It has reached literally every second whatsapp group in the country, and even abroad. Today, at least three of my friends living outside Kerala asked me whether the contributions to the CM’s disaster relief fund would actually reach the flood victims. Another friend, working for a major company, told me about how the higher-ups had second thoughts about contributing to the fund, and forwarded the voice clip to the Kerala branch, to get their reactions, before going ahead with the fund collection at the company level.
Suresh Kochattil, the man who headed the Hyderabad-chapter of Modi’s social media campaign during 2014 elections, is just a voice which delivered the message. For it to have such wide reach within half a day of being recorded, an effective machinery is required. Suresh’s political affiliations and the various attempts to stop the funding over the past week, leaves no doubt about the identity of that machinery — the sangh parivar.
In the initial days of the flood, we saw messages from random North Indian sanghis asking people to not donate for the disaster relief funds. Known bigots like Rajeev Malhotra specifically asked for donations to be done to RSS- affiliated Seva Bharathi. The BJP-friendly Hindian media hushed up the news of the unprecedented flood, until Modi arrived in Kerala. But despite all that, funds began pouring in from all around, from other states and from abroad and from individuals and organisations, so much so that the Centre’s grant of Rs.500 crores increasingly began to look too meagre. They now realised that they had to up their game to cut the funding. Thus was produced the English voice clip, seemingly of someone working on the ground (but actually sleeping on a couch in Hyderabad) delivered in a “sophisticated tone” (any bullshit delivered in that tone works with the nishku liberals. For example, listen to speeches of Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev). Though it was exposed, and the polished bigot was called out, we would never know the extent of the funds that we might have lost, thanks to that one clip.
While everyone in the state was thinking about being of help in one way or the other, there was one group constantly at work in their fake news factory, producing fancy dress videos of fake armymen, creating photoshopped images of khaki shortwalahs doing rescue work, putting out whatsapp messages on why the floods cannot be declared as a national disaster, issuing fake calls for help and all other imaginable products that a mind filled exclusively with cowdung can produce.
Some of the photoshopped images have actually worked in the north, if some of the tweets coming from there, from even some “senior” (but outdated) journalists about Sevabharathi’s work are to be believed. All of them also tell you to donate to Sevabharathi, rather than the CM’s relief fund. We have all seen reports of how massive donations collected by sangh organisations like Seva Bharathi during the Gujarat earthquake and the Orissa supercyclone were diverted to fund the organised violence during the Gujarat riots. The CM’s relief fund is transparent, comes under RTI and is audited by the CAG, while no such transparency is possible with funds that give you to organisations like Sevabharathi. So, we really have to question the shady intentions of those who are casting doubts on the official relief fund and asking you to contribute to a less trasparent organisation.
According to a tweet on August 12 by Suresh Kochattil, the man behind the infamous voice clip, he has just moved back to India from Bangkok, “following requests from number of my friends and BJP Karyakarthas”. He says that he has decided to come back to India to go full steam into the campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Knowing previous Seva Bharathi records, we really have to doubt whether there is any connection between this tweet and his voice clip.
The biggest crime that all of these manufacturers of fake news and hate have done is to take away atleast some of the attention away, at least for short periods, from the rescue and relief efforts. Though we could ignore many of the hateful messages, we had to spend some energy on countering these attempts to target the relief fund. Today, Union Minister K.J.Alphonse (Kannanthanam) has also repeated Suresh’s lines. There is clearly an agenda at play, to scuttle relief funding. And, it is being controlled from the highest levels.