The prosecution failed to reveal the account holder’s identity in court, but the Indian Express reported that the police later sent Twitter a notice under Section 91 of Criminal Procedure Code on the evening of June 29, asking them to provide details of the account @balajikijaiin that goes by the name ‘Hanuman Bhakt’.
Investigations by The Wire have uncovered a network of 757 accounts linked to Ahir that have attempted – since 2018 – to incriminate the fact-checker alongside Pratik Sinha, co-founder at AltNews, by highlighting and misconstruing old tweets uploaded by the two journalists to portray them as “Hinduphobic” and then tagging the local authorities in order to have the two journalists arrested for supposedly hurting religious sentiments.
In particular, this network also included eight replica accounts of @balajikijaiin – the anonymous account whose complaint formed the basis of Zubair’s arrest by the Delhi police. Each of these eight accounts exhibited similar properties – profile picture, tweets and usernames – and employed the same modus operandi to target the AltNews co-founders on Twitter. While five of these eight replica accounts have been deleted, two other accounts - @balajikijain and @HanumanBhakt101 - remain active at the time of analysis.
Complementing this activity was a larger network of 18,364 accounts which were also used to trend other hashtags – #ArrestZubair, #ArrestMohamedZubair and #ArrestBlasphemerMdZubair – that targeted the journalist.
In June 2021, the Tek Fog network had 77,800 users, many of which became inactive following the publication of our three part investigation. The activation of this cluster to manipulate public perception around the Zubair case is the first time in the last six months that the use of this network has been detected.
The original @balajikijaiin was the complainant cited in the Delhi Police’s case against Mohammed Zubair. The account was temporarily disabled after the public outcry generated by the case; when it returned, it proceeded to make a similar tweet against the co-founder of AltNews, Pratik Sinha, targeting out a tweet of his from seven years ago and asking for police action to be taken against him.