A viral audio clip claiming Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve is criticising those who protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act and and opposing its passing is false. BOOM found that the viral audio was recorded by Suresh Kochattil, who on social media profiles describes himself as a former member of the Bharatiya Janata Party's social media team in Hyderabad.
The audio is being shared on WhatsApp with the caption, "Supreme Court senior Advocate Harish Salve alerts us in most serious manner, listen carefully".
The 5 minute 15 seconds long video has the person claiming those protesting against the CAA are opposition parties who are not clear about the reason for protest and adds that they are constantly shifting their "goal posts". The audio further names Rahul Gandhi, Asaduddin Owaisi and claims they should learn about the act and make it clear why they are protesting.
Below is the viral audio clip :
BOOM first heard the audio and found that the person introduces himself and says he is Suresh Kochattil. We searched for the name and found a LinkedIn profile where Kochattil said he was the Chief Executive Officer at Janam TV, a Kerala based right leaning news channel.
Scanning through his Facebook profile, we found that Kochattil routinely shares audio clips about various topics and also gives talks at various events about trending political issues. We also found a post from August 13, 2020 where Kochattil, addressed the viral audio clip and debunked the fake claim and said that its him speaking and not Salve.
The text to the post reads, "An old audio clip of mine is going viral on WhatsApp. It was recorded and released during the anti CAA agitation. Over the last few days, many friends have called / messaged me to confirm it was me and not Harish Salve, as many claimed. If you listen to it closely, at 1:34, i mention by name. Hope this clears the confusion."
We also contacted Salve's office who denied that it was an audio recorded by him. A member from Salve's team called it fake and said he has filed a complaint about the same and added, "he has just tried to copy Salve's voice." However, no details were provided about the police complaint and where it was filed.
WHO IS SURESH KOCHATTIL?
Suresh Kochattil on LinkedIn describes himself as a media professional and currently working at the Chief Operations Officer of Janam TV, a right leaning channel based in Kerala. On his Facebook account, Kochattil, in the about section describes himself as, "Former Social Media at Bharatiya Janata Party". On his Twitter and Facebook profile, Kochattil, routinely shares his talks and interviews with various people on political and media related topics says.
This is not the first instance of Kochattil's audio clip going viral. During the 2018 floods that devastated Kerala, an audio clip by Kochattil went viral, where he urges people to not send relief materials to Kerala because the victims belong to "very well to do families". The audio clip that spread drew heavy criticism with people calling him out after several identified him.
HARISH SALVE'S VIEWS ON CAA
While the audio is not by Harish Salve, his views on the subject are similar. Salve, a former Soliticor General has in the past advocated for CAA and said the protests are unnecessary. In an editorial piece for Times Of India, Salve defencing CAA wrote, "I fail to understand how a law which is designed to confer the benefit on an identified class of persons, and which identification is based on a rational criterion, can be condemned as being discriminatory on the ground that the legislation could have created a wider class, arrived at by applying a broader criterion for identifying the class of those who would benefit by the legislation" and for the protests said, "The controversy over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act appears to simmer – and of late has led to communal riots. I have failed hopelessly to comprehend what the controversy is all about."
(Additional Reporting By Ritika Jain)
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