A photo of a man walking in front of three women in burqas has been shared on social media. He has a chain in his hand which is tied around the women’s feet. The image has been shared with another photo of women in western attire. Viral posts attempt to draw a contrast between Afghanistan in the 1960s and 70s and Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

Below is a tweet by TV9 Bharatvarsh anchor Shubhankar Mishra sharing the pictures. (Archive link)

A few hours later, Mishra again tweeted the pictures in a different graphic. (Archive link)

The image is viral on Twitter.

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The photo also made its way to Facebook. (1 and 2)

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Alt News spotted several red flags that made us question the veracity of the image. We noticed that the shadow of the shackles in the picture looked a bit odd. The shadow is clearly visible between the man and the woman right behind him but missing between the first two women. It then reappears between the second and third woman.

We performed a reverse image search of the image along with some keywords. This led to a 2017 article by ABP Ananda, the Bengali arm of ABP News. There were no shackles in the picture featured in the article.

The photo was also shared in a 2017 article in Modern Diplomacy. There were no shackles seen here either.

In addition, upon further research, we found a few blog posts from 2011 and 2012 containing the original picture without the shackles. [Link 1 (Archive link), Link 2 (Archive link), Link 3 (2012 Archive link), Link 4 (2016 Archive link)]

Using the Internet Archive Library, Alt News located an archived version of one of the blog posts. The original photo was shared in May 2011. This means that the picture is at least 10 years old.

All of these blog posts are identical, or rather they have been copy-pasted word for word. Each one recounts an incident where American journalist Barbara Walters was doing a story in Afghanistan and spoke to an Afghani woman. Walters asked her the reason she was walking behind her husband, to which she responded saying, “Land mines.”

In 2017, Abhijit Iyer Mitra shared the same story on Twitter, citing WhatsApp. Therefore, this anecdote had also been shared in India earlier. (Archive link)

American fact-checking agency Snopes also investigated the Barbara Walters-reported story in 2014. It concluded that this was just a satirical post, versions of which have been shared on the internet since 2001.

To sum it up, a ten-year-old image was edited and shared as recent after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

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About the Author

Abhishek is a journalist at Alt News.