Multiple fake Twitter accounts impersonating Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait have surfaced in the backdrop of the farmers' tractor rally and the ensuing violence at the the Red Fort in Delhi.
BOOM reached out to Tikait's social media team who confirmed that @RakeshTikaitBKU is the original Twitter account of the farmers' union leader. Thousands of BKU members have been protesting against the contentious farm laws by camping in and around the Delhi borders.
On January 28, Tikait on behalf of the union refused to follow the orders of administration to vacate the site of protest. In an emotional address to the farmers at the Ghazipur site Tikait volunteered to court arrest, mobilising the protesters further and leading to several Twitter handles impersonating him.
With Tikait's official account not verified, several impostor accounts have cropped up since the former police constable turned farmer leader made an emotional appeal went viral.
We were able to trace at least six Twitter accounts impersonating Tikait; each claiming to be the leader's official Twitter handle and tweeting on behalf of him. BOOM found that each handle had changed the username to Rakesh Tikait after the leader started making headlines.
With over 39,000 followers at the time of writing this article, the bio of the handle @rkeshtikait reads, This is the official Twitter account. The account is followed by verified handles including Congress leader Alka Lamba, Samajwadi Party member Anil Yadav and activist Mona Ambegaonkar.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal fell for a tweet from the account and expressed solidarity with the protesting farmers. The tweet claimed that Kejriwal government has arranged for water supplies at the Ghazipur border. The same was retweeted by Kejriwal who criticised the Centre for disrupting the peaceful protests. Click here for the archive of the tweet.
BOOM found that the handle was previously (@Kiransingh_077. We extracted the Twitter id of @rkeshtikait - 1334728554437701634 and ran a Google search. We were directed to earlier tweets by @KiranSingh_077.
The handle @Rakesh_Tikait1 has several red flags to ascertain that it is an impersonation. The spelling of 'official' has an error and is spelt as 'oficeal.' The bio of the handle reads किसान एकता जिंदाबाद. With more than 1800 followers, the account claims to the official account of the farmer leader. BOOM extracted the Twitter id of the account and ran a search on Google. We found that it earlier used the handle name @Bhakar_36. The handle had changed its profile picture on December 27, 2020 as well.
With around 4000 followers, the bio of the handle @OfficeOfTikait states, हिन्दुस्तान अगर दिल है तो किसान उसकी धड़कन। भारत माता का सुपुत्र।. The tweets from the account are sarcastic in nature. We scanned through the earlier tweets by the handle and found that the handle was earlier @Trollkamalnath.
With more than 6000 followers, tweets by the handle @Rakeshtikait0 have garnered several retweets and likes. BOOM extracted the Twitter id of the handle 1305235949958213632 and ran a Google search. We found that the handle was earlier operating as a parody of actor Diljit Dosanjh @diljitdosnjh.
BOOM scanned through the replies of the handle and found a retweet by @Rakesh_tikait4 which appealed to follow the handle @Yvishesh1 and in return it would follow 500 active Twitter users.
We then searched for @Yvishesh1 on Twitter and were directed to @Rakesh_tikait4 thus asserting that the former had been renamed as the latter.
The bio of the handle @Rakesh_Tikeit reads: Official Twitter Handle, Farmer Leader & Naitonol Spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) @officialBKU. BOOM extracted the Twitter ID of handle and found that it was earlier operating under the username @TanzeemNizami3. Further, a search for @TanzeemNizami3 on Twitter leads to the same handle.
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