Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad has lodged a criminal complaint at Vartak Nagar police in Thane against an unknown person for allegedly operating a parody account on Twitter using Awhad's name and photograph. The minister has also alleged that the accused had posted derogatory comments from the said Twitter handle.
According to the complaint filed by Awhad, he has an official Twitter account handle @Awhadspeaks with as many as 450K followers. The said account has been operational for around five to six years. On March 17, while checking his Twitter account, Awhad came across a parody account by the handle @Awhadjituparody.
"The said parody Twitter handle had Awhad's photograph as the profile photo and had 206 followers. On opening the said Twitter handle, Awhad found several tweets that were objectionable and derogatory in nature. As per Awhad, the said account was opened with the intention to defame him and some of his tweets were edited and posted in a derogatory manner on the parody account," said a police officer.
Awhad then got screenshots of the tweets from the parody account printed and submitted them along with his complaint to the police.
The police on March 17 registered a case under section 66C of the Information Technology Act, which amounts to punishment for identity theft. As per this section, whoever fraudulently or dishonestly makes use of the electronic signature, password or any other unique identification feature of any other person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh.
"On examining the said Twitter handle, we learned that it was operating since February last year and the latest objectionable tweet from the said handle was posted in the wee hours of Sunday on the ongoing issue of controversy between former Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. We are checking which Internet Protocol address was used to create the said account and efforts are on to trace the culprit," the officer said.