As the probe in The Wire-Meta case picked up steam, the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police quizzed the publication's ex-consultant Devesh Kumar for over 8 hours on Thursday. Sources told Republic TV that Kumar was questioned about the now-retracted stories which claimed that Meta removes any post reported by the BJP IT cell head without any questions asked.
The Wire's ex-consultant was questioned about the sources and the details of those who vetted the information he received from the sources. Also, he was asked whether funds were collected after the publication of the articles.
Kumar was also questioned about a three-part report on Tek Fog published in January, in which The Wire alleged that the BJP's IT cell used the purported application to automate the retweeting of posts on Twitter, store a database of private citizens for targeted harassment and hijack inactive WhatsApp accounts.
Amit Malviya, the national convenor of the IT department of BJP filed a complaint, in which he accused The Wire of publishing a defamatory report on October 10, which claimed that Meta removes any post reported by the BJP IT cell head without any questions asked. The report, as per the complaint, also alleged that Malviya was on an 'XCheck list' giving him direct authority to take down posts on the Meta platforms.
On the basis of the complaint, an FIR was registered against The Wire, its founding members, and others, under Sections 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 120B (Criminal conspiracy), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 469 (Forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 500 (Defamation) of the IPC.
Searches were conducted at the residence of The Wire's Founder Siddharth Varadarajan and Founding Editor MK Venu. The police seized electronic devices such as mobiles and laptops from the residences of Varadarajan, Venu and others.
Thereafter, the publication filed a complaint against its ex-employee- a consultant, Devesh Kumar. In the complaint, the publication had alleged that Kumar has a "malintent" towards The Wire, its Editors, and staff and has "fabricated and supplied documents, e-mails and other material such as videos with a view to damage its reputation. Kumar has been summoned by the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police for questioning.