New Delhi: With the BJP and the Centre coming in for intense criticism for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the party had begun a campaign asking people to give a missed call to a number to “register” their support for the controversial law. While reports said that the BJP IT cell would also “give a push” to the campaign on social media outlets, the strategy took a rather interesting turn, as it later emerged.
To extend your support for the historic Citizenship Amendment Act-2019 brought in by PM @NarendraModi’s government, to ensure justice to the religiously persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, kindly give a missed call on 88662-88662. #IndiaSupportsCAA pic.twitter.com/g7pTItqYjA
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) January 3, 2020
Many Twitter accounts had begun misleading their followers into calling the number on pretexts that callers would get “free Netflix subscription”, connect with job openings or even get in touch with phone sex operators.
While some of the accounts claimed that they were doing it as a “prank”, evidence suggests many are linked to the BJP IT cell. At least one of the prominent accounts which tweeted misleading information about the phone number is followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
When the “tactics” came to the attention of other Twitter users, they accused the BJP of resorting to “desperate measures” in “desperate times”.
— SamSays (@samjawed65) January 4, 2020
More Twitter users poked fun at the strategy, with one person asking people to call the Prime Minister’s Office to remind him of the promise to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every person’s bank account.
Give a Missed Call to PM’s Office +91-11-23012312 to remind @narendramodi to transfer ₹15 lakh to your Bank Account
RT and help people know this important information 🙂
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) January 4, 2020
Looking for professional missed call dialing experts urgently.
— Anubhav Sinha (@anubhavsinha) January 4, 2020
Streaming platform Netflix joined in, saying if somebody wanted a free subscription, they should just use another person’s account, “like the rest of us”.
This is absolutely fake. If you want free Netflix please use someone else’s account like the rest of us. https://t.co/PHhwdA3sEI
— Netflix India (@NetflixIndia) January 4, 2020
On January 6, home minister Amit Shah claimed that the number received 52.7 lakh ‘verified’ missed calls in a span of two days. He said in total, the toll-free number received 68 lakh calls.
BJP President Amit Shah: 52,72,000 missed calls have been received on special number in support of #CitizenshipAmendmentAct from verifiable phone numbers, total 68 lakh calls have been received (file pic) pic.twitter.com/bFbYKwKsKu
— ANI (@ANI) January 6, 2020
Note: This article was first published on January 4 at 5:30 pm and was updated to include Amit Shah’s statement.