“This account has been suspended. Contact your hosting provider for more information” is the error message one sees while attempting to view Karnataka Congress’ official website, inckarnataka.in.
In the run-up to the Karnataka Assembly elections, it seems digital attacks are set to be the norm.
The official website of Karnataka Congress in Karnataka has vanished, with leaders calling it a hacker attack. Miscreants haven’t hacked just into the website, but also the domain server ID, rendering it “suspended”.
This is the third digital attack on the Congress in Karnataka in less than 24 hours.
On the day it began the second leg of Praja Dhwani yatra led by state president DK Shivakumar and Legislature Party Chief Siddaramaiah, Congress countered an attack it wasn’t prepared for — a digital onslaught.
Even as its official website was hacked and “suspended”, a spoof website, kpcc.in, was set up with photos of Congress leaders.
The spoof website has been designed to look like Congress’ official website with categories, clickable links, media snippets, but with material terming the Congress “Communal, Criminal and Corrupt”.
“The website — kpcc.in — contains communally inflammatory content aimed at disrupting harmony. Photos of Congress leaders have been used with defamatory captions and text with intent to slander,” alleged Priyank Kharge, chairman of the KPCC Communications Cell in an official complaint to Bengaluru police commissioner.
On Thursday, 2 February, a fake letter with a forged signature of Siddaramaiah was hosted on the spoof website. The letter, debunked as fake by Siddaramaiah, was addressed to former AICC president Sonia Gandhi but was written in Kannada.
Printed on the Siddaramaiah’s letterhead as Leader of the Opposition, Karnataka Assembly, the letter urges Sonia Gandhi to log in to the spoof kpcc.in website while highlighting purported infighting in Congress.
A fake & forged letter with my name on the letterhead is being circulated with a mala fide intension of creating confusion among people, @INCKarnataka party workers & leaders.
Disturbed by their falling electoral prospects, @BJP4Karnataka has stooped low like their high command. pic.twitter.com/kqYy8PaufY
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) February 2, 2023
The forged letter was put up on the spoof website on Thursday night and was also circulated widely on mass messaging apps and social media platforms.
“They say, slander is the tool of losers. We have filed a complaint with the commissioner of police to take action against those who created a fake website in Congress’ name and manufactured a fake and forged letter on LoP Siddaramaiah’s letterhead,” Kharge said on Friday.
Based on the complaint by Congress, the cybercrime police in Bengaluru have registered an FIR under sections 66(C), 66(D) and IPC 505 against unknown persons.
With the official website now suspended, spoof websites of Karnataka Congress are popping up on search engines.
The digital attacks on Congress come in the backdrop of the party carrying out successive online campaigns, including the viral PayCM campaign, and the still up and running website — www.40percentsarkara.com — to highlight corruption allegations against the incumbent BJP government.
Barely a week ago, actor turned politician Kamal Haasan’s party Makkal Needhi Maiam too alleged a cyber-attack on its website.
On 27 January, a press release announcing a merger between MNM and the Congress was hosted on its official website.
Within moments, the party claimed that the website had been hacked and miscreants had posted a malicious press release. The post was eventually taken down.