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South African news site stands by report on Modi ‘tantrum’, alleges cyber attack from ‘Indian servers’ – ThePrint

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New Delhi: South African news publication Daily Maverick has said it stands by its report on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apparent refusal to de-board his aircraft in Pretoria ahead of the BRICS Summit because only a cabinet minister was sent to officially welcome him.

Headlined ‘Tough Love Triangle: While Ramaphosa focused on Xi, Modi threw a tantrum and refused to get off his plane’, the Daily Maverick report claims that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa prioritised the visit of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and greeted him personally upon arrival, but did not do the same for Modi Tuesday. 

The news report, published Wednesday, was met with denial from the South African government, with spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation Lunga Ngqengelele telling News24 that Deputy President Paul Mashatile was not “despatched last minute”, nor did he need to “appease anyone”, and there were no “tensions” between the Indian and South African representatives.

The developments come amid the landmark BRICS Summit, hosted by Johannesburg, where an expansion of the bloc was announced with six more nations — Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — invited to join Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2024. 

Apparently miffed by Ramaphosa’s snub, Modi “refused to get off his aircraft” on arrival at Pretoria’s Waterkloof Air Force Base, prompting Ramaphosa to send his deputy Mashatile to “dash to Waterkloof” to greet Modi instead, the Daily Maverick reported citing unnamed officials. 

“Xi certainly dominated the day. For starters, he was granted an abbreviated state visit on the morning before the BRICS Summit began — his fourth state visit to South Africa…Pretoria had hoped to tack a similar event for Modi on to this year’s BRICS Summit, but officials said that scheduling clashes precluded this,” the report added. 

India has not officially commented on the Daily Maverick‘s claims, while Modi was photographed perusing another South African publication, The Star, which in a report labelled the PM as “out of this world”, in light of the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole of the Moon Wednesday. 

The Daily Maverick since alleged that in the hours since publishing its story, its website was subjected to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber attack from “a whole host of Indian servers”. 

1/ Earlier today (Wednesday, 23 August), Daily Maverick published a story about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s refusal to leave his aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base because the South African government had only sent a Cabinet minister to officially welcome him.

— Daily Maverick (@dailymaverick) August 23, 2023

A DDoS cyber attack is designed to take a website down, but the Daily Maverick site put in place a firewall to stave off Indian traffic to protect its security, the Maverick website’s security coordinator revealed. 

“It was obvious that the purpose of this attack is to deny the people of India access to this story as no attempt was made to hide the source of the attack…This left us with no option but to block the entire domain of India to protect the integrity of the site,” said Daily Maverick Editor-in-Chief Branko Brkic, according to the publication’s posts on social media platform, X.

The publication also revealed that it had contacted an “official source” in India who labelled their report as “factually wrong” and having “no basis” in reality. Moreover, this source did not claim to have the technical knowledge to comment on whether “pro-Modi users” had launched the DDoS attack.

As it stands, the Daily Maverick website cannot be accessed in India without using a proxy or a VPN, with the publication stating that finding ways to provide access to users in India is “difficult” due to the large attack. 

Founded in 2009, the Daily Maverick had previously attracted attention for its role in collaborative investigative reporting on the #GuptaLeaks, which was about a business family originally from Saharanpur that maintained close links to former South African President Jacob Zuma, and has been accused of state capture and corruption.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: South Africa envoy slams ‘dollar domination’, says arresting Putin in Johannesburg will be ‘bizarre’

 

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