In a reply to an RTI, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said that they have no information on the list of bomb factories in West Bengal. The response comes after activist Saket Gokhale filed an RTI regarding Home Minister Amit Shah’s claim that “there are bomb-making factories in every district of West Bengal”.
With the West Bengal Assembly election not too far away, Shah made the allegation in an interview with an English news channel in October 2020. Following this allegation, Gokhale filed a four-point RTI to MHA’s Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) regarding the claim. Gokhale posted the RTI reply on his social media handles.
Gokhale asked three questions – A list of the bomb-making factories in Bengal referred by Shah? Whether the MHA had briefed Shah about the matter? Whether Shah's remarks were based on official records? Whether the information regarding these factories has been shared with the West Bengal government or the West Bengal police?
In reply to Gokhale’s RTI, the MHA responded that they have no information available on the first three questions asked by Gokhale. The MHA also said that ‘police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects and added that the state police is the first responder “in case of criminal or terrorist activities".
In his social media post, Gokhale alleged that the MHA did not share information on such factories with the Bengal police and the state government “because no such factories exist”. Gokhale also said that it was not easy getting information on this matter. “MHA stalled giving response since October. Even the first appeal wasn't responded. An MHA official told me that we(MHA) have been told not to reply on this,” the activist said, adding that he received the response after issuing a legal notice.
Gokhale also said that he was shocked that the Union Home Minister of India “would openly perpetrate fake news about internal security matters just to malign and insult the state of West Bengal for electoral gains”.
“How can the Home Minister be trusted when he lies openly on record about things,” Gokhale asked in his post.
Here is the video in which the Union Home Minister making the claim in an interview with CNN News18.