On September 6, Twitter user Prema Lakshminarayan posted a thread, sharing an alleged story of an IAS officer posted in Tripura who received a call from Prime Minister Modi at 10 pm. (Archive link)
The thread reads, “An IAS officer who is posted in North Tripura got a call at 10 pm on 21st July. He was surprised to get a call so late in the night. A young voice from the other side apologized for calling so late and asked if he is free for a few minutes because Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to talk to him. His brain froze for a few seconds and he could feel his legs shivering. He meekly whispered yes and after a few beeps, the call was transferred and none other than Mr. Modi was on call. Modi apologized to him again for calling so late and said that he is just done with a meeting with Mr. Nitin Gadkari and they needed his help to repair National Highway 208A connecting Tripura to the rest of the country. He says he doesn’t even remember how he responded to it. All he remembers is Modi telling him that the GOI has spoken to both the Assam and Tripura Government and all help would be provided to him to oversee the project.”
The story further says that when the officers reached the office on the second day, they were told by the Tripura government, Assam government, and GOI that they were sanctioned funds to repair 15 km of the highway. When the staff reached the site, the officer found six JCBs standing there provided by the Assam government. More than 300 trucks full of construction materials continued to arrive over the next four days. Once the repair work had been completed, the officer got a call from Nitin Gadkari thanking him. Gadkari reportedly also invited him to visit the Prime Minister’s Office upon his arrival in Delhi.
This forward is circulating on WhatsApp too.
Old WhatsApp forward viral
On August 27, 2016, Facebook page ‘Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy’ run by Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair had revealed the origins of the viral message which will be discussed in this article.
There is a story of Selfless Modi calling up an IAS officer in the middle of night (10 PM) asking his…
Let’s first discuss The Indian Express article dated August 28, 2016, on the viral message. The outlet stated that it was unable to verify any of the claims in the post. It also stated that the entire story was originally shared on Quora by Pushpak Chakraborty, a member of the BJP IT Cell. Zubair also mentioned the same in a Facebook post. The report adds further that several social media users had called this viral message fake.
A journalist from The Economic Times had asked the Tripura DM about the episode and he denied it. Responding to this, Chakraborty had said, “I don’t know how the journalist could conclude who the officer is as I have not mentioned any name in my answer.” He explained that he had intentionally left out the name of the officer in the post since it was against protocol to publicly share official communication.
On August 27, 2016, journalist Aman Sharma had tweeted that North Tripura Collector Sandeep Mahatme had denied the Prime Minister ever making such a call. In a reply to the tweet, Arindam Majumdar of Business Standard stated that a few local media outlets had claimed that Prime Minister Modi had indeed called. Sharma reiterated that the Tripura official had completely denied this claim.
strange, he had told me he strongly denies it! -)
— Aman Sharma (@AmanKayamHai_) August 27, 2016
Now, coming to the claims in the viral message:
1. What was the state of Tripura’s National Highway in 2016?
An Indian Express article dated July 31, 2016, stated that two highways in Tripura had been closed due to rain. This had led to a shortage of petrol and diesel in the state and protests by the public and opposition. It was against this backdrop that the state government got National Highway 44 repaired. This opened up the route between Assam and Tripura. The article quoted North Tripura DM Mahatme as saying that the NHIDCL had provided Rs. 50 lakh to the state and the repair work was completed within six days. However, National Highway 8, the main transport route of the state, was still in a dilapidated condition. The state government had appealed to the Center several times to get it repaired.
On July 1, the NHIDCL had also issued a tender for the repair of the highway. The tender mentioned that repair work was needed on an 18 km stretch of the highway at the earliest.
The Indian Express reported that the PWD had commenced repair work on NH-8. However, nowhere does it mention Prime Minister Modi or Nitin Gadkari calling the DM.
2. Repair work on NH-8 and NH-208A
On August 1, 2016, Business Standard reported that the Tripura PWD was helping the NHIDCL (National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited) to repair NH-8 and NH-208A. This was stated by Tripura PWD Chief Engineer Deepak Das who was also the National Highway in charge. He had explained that the repair work would begin as soon as the monsoon season ended in September.
An ABP News report from July 30, 2016 said that the PWD Minister of Tripura showed letters written by the state government to the central government and the Assam government during a press conference. He alleged that the Centre had not been fulfilling its duties towards the people of Tripura.
To sum it up, a member of BJP IT Cell shared a story about PM Modi calling an IAS officer posted in Tripura in 2016. However, none of the Tripura officials confirmed that the Prime Minister himself had called for the repair of NH-8 and NH-208A. This unverified message has been circulating on social media since 2016 without any concrete evidence.
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