The month of April saw a flurry of fake news with regard to the Kathua rape and murder case and the Bharat bandh protests on April 2, apart from missteps by mainstream media organisations and attempts by elements on social media to further communal polarisation through provocative messages and photographs.
1. Dainik Jagran’s front page splash contradicts post-mortem report of Kathua victim
No rape of the girl in Kathua, postmortem report only talks of injuries” screamed the front page of the Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran on April 20. The article claimed that the post-mortem report of the Kathua incident made no mention of rape. It stated that there could be other reasons for the injuries that the victim suffered. The article was on the front page of Dainik Jagran editions in New Delhi, Agra, Allahabad, Amritsar, Aligarh, Kathua and Jammu among others. Nai Dunia, which is a part of the Dainik Jagran group also published this article.
Alt News had contacted Dr. Jaydip Sarkar who is a forensic expert. He confirmed that the findings of the post-mortem report suggest:
1. The injuries described in the report appear to be consistent with non-consenting/forcible act in the sexual region of the victim.
2. Post-mortem information must be seen in the context of all other facts of the case (abduction, drugging of victim, homicide, confessions of accused etc.)
3. The information available based on the two post-mortem sheets suggest on balance of probability that sexual assault has taken place
This claim was negated by the J&K police. In a tweet, the police clarified that it had been confirmed that the victim had been subjected to sexual assault.
2. ShankhNaad spreads fake news about elderly woman attacked by muslims in Kerala
“Shocking: Elderly Hindu woman brutally attacked, idol and temple desecrated by Muslims in secular Kerala. Why is Bollywood silent? #***** #islam”. Serial communal rabble-rouser, Shankhnaad once again tried to polarize communities and target Kerala by spreading communally sensitive news on social media. In a second tweet he wrote “Jihadi attack on Hindus, Temple vandalism continue in Kerala during protest for *****. Worse fate awaits if Hindus continue with their ignorance and one-way secularism”.
The image circulated by these handles is a six-month old image that was shared by a Bangladeshi Facebook page called Suptodisha in October 2017. According to the following Facebook post, the incident happened in Chittagong district in Bangladesh.
The Bengali text accompanying the Facebook post can be translated as follows:
“This woman is Panchabala Karmakar, resident of Jaldhi village, under Banskhali Police Station of Chittagong district. This poor and helpless woman was beaten up badly in a pre-planned attack by his influential neighbour Pradip Ghosh and his son Biswajit. Her situation is now precarious. There is now no one to take care of her or treat her. Kindly share this.”
3. Viral video claims one ‘Mohammed Ilyas’ arrested for Kathua incident
A video was circulated widely on social media, in which a person is seen handcuffed and escorted by policemen. The message along with this video claimed that a person called Mohammed Ilyas has been arrested and is one of the accused in the rape and murder of the 8-year old girl in Kathua, Jammu in January.
Alt News analysed the video and found that the video is from Hanuman ganj area of Bhopal. The incident took place on April 5, 2018 when a man accused of raping a 13-year old girl was escorted by policemen to be taken to court.
4. Times Now breaks fake news of Nirav Modi’s arrest
On the evening of April 9, 2018, Times Now broke a story. The story was that Nirav Modi, accused in the Rs.11000 crore PNB scam has been arrested in Hong Kong.
Apart from Times Now, regional news channel VTV Gujarati also reported that Modi has been arrested in Hong Kong. It was also reported by news channel TV9 Telugu. Curiously, Times Now did not return to this ‘big breaking news’. Moreover, 3 hours after Times Now ‘broke’ this news, not a single National Channel has announced Nirav Modi’s arrest. This is because the news that Times Now flashed on Nirav Modi was fake.
5. Slip up by New Indian Express about Jignesh Mewani’s image on laptops seized in Karnataka
On April 10, 2018, The New Indian Express in its Bengaluru edition reported that youth leader and MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani has been booked by Karnataka police for violating the Model Code of Conduct ahead of the assembly election in the state. The write-up which was published on page 7 of the newspaper reported that 160 laptops had been seized by Election Commission authorities, and that these laptops had pictures of Jignesh Mevani on it.
The laptops in question were seized on March 31, and they did not carry Jignesh Mevani’s image as reported by The New Indian Express, nor was he booked by the police in this particular case. The newspaper later regretted the error.
6. One video, two false narratives
A video was shared widely on social media in which policemen are seen clashing with a group of devotees. The interesting bit is that this video was being circulated with two different claims. According to one claim, the police is of West Bengal and they are assaulting ISKCON sanyasis and preventing them from distributing literature related to Hinduism. According to the other, Krishna devotees are being attacked by Christians in collusion with the police in Goa.
The video in question is old; the incident took place in Goa in 2008 and the clash was between the police and Russian members of a religious sect after the latter reportedly created a ruckus leading to complaints by locals.
7. Fake news about involvement of ABVP member in Surat rape case
In the aftermath of the rape and murder of a young girl in Surat in April, social media was abuzz with the claim that an ABVP worker is the culprit in the case. A website called www.dailygraph.in was one of the first to post this information on April 14. This article mentioned one Harish Thakur as responsible for the rape and murder. The article was later edited and this detail was removed.
This claim that the rape and murder was the handiwork of an ABVP activist named Harish Thakur is false. This was confirmed by Surat police in a reply to a tweet by a user named Irfan Anjum who was among those who made this claim. Anjum has also been booked along with two others under Section 505(1) of the IPC for spreading rumours on social media.
8. ‘Fact checking website’ promoted by Union Ministers paints false picture about crime in Karnataka
“What’s the State of Law & Order in Mr Siddaramaiah’s Karnataka?” asked the headline of the article by The True Picture, the website that was enthusiastically shared by Union ministers on social media. The article claimed that “Karnataka has a higher incidence of crimes committed against SCs than its neighboring states, which is a clear reflection of its safety record when it comes to Dalits and other marginalised sections of society”.
Alt News busted this claim by The True Picture, showing how the data from the NCRB records was cherry picked to arrive at a preset conclusion. The article by the so called fact checker randomly selected six states for comparison in order to show Karnataka in poor light, and relied on absolute number of cases of crime against SC/STs instead of comparing the crime rate which takes into consideration factors such as differences in population between states.
9. Fake news peddlers milk public anger on Kathua incident, post misleading videos
The Kathua incident which led to an outpouring of anger on the streets as well as on social media was a trigger for certain elements to post misleading videos and fake claims with regard to the incident. A video of a funeral procession was circulated on social media with the claim that it was the funeral procession of the victim of the Kathua incident. Another video that was posted showed a young girl reciting a poem. It was claimed that this young girl was the Kathua rape and murder victim.
Both the claims turned out to be false. The two videos were of some other incident/event and had been misrepresented. Thousands of social media users fell for these claims.
10. Politics over cash crunch in ATMs, fake news of cash seized
With ATMs across the country facing a cash crunch in April, supporters of political parties spread fake news, blaming the other for the cash crunch in ATMs. Photographs were shared of huge amount of currency notes that were seized in raids. A video of currency found during a raid was shared as that of a raid on the house of Congress minister from Karnataka D K Shivkumar. Another image of currency notes was shared along with a photo of a man surrounded by policemen, with the claim that he was arrested by Karnataka police and that he was a BJP worker.
Both the claims were fake. In the first instance, the video was of an Income Tax raid on T&T law firm in Delhi founded by Rohit Tandon that took place in Delhi in November 2016, whereas in the second instance, two unrelated images were put together and the claim that the arrested person was a BJP worker had no basis as investigation is still on.
11. Fake news over Bharat bandh called by Dalit groups on April 2
Dalit groups had declared Bharat bandh on April 2 to protest dilution of provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by a Supreme Court verdict. The sporadic violence that occurred on the day of the bandh was used by rumour mongers to spread fake news on social media. In one instance, it was claimed, along with a set of pictures, that a sub-inspector was brutally beaten to death by a Dalit protester. Another post that was viral on social media showed a Sikh gentleman standing next to his charred truck with the claim that it was set ablaze by Dalit protesters during Bharat bandh.
In the first case, Alt News found out that these pictures are of June 2017 and they were taken in Uttar Pradesh. According to a report by Daily Mail, a teenage school girl was raped during treatment at the Jagruti hospital in Kanpur, U.P. The crowd that had gathered to protest turned violent, indulging in destruction of property and even assaulted the police officer on duty at the hospital. As for the cop who had died on duty, it was found that sub-inspector Mahendra Chaudhray was on duty during Bharat bandh on April 3 when he had a heart attack. He was being treated at a hospital in Jodhpur but with no improvement in his condition, he was referred to a hospital in Ahmedabad. He succumbed on the way.
In the second case, the incident had occurred during the Jat agitation for reservation that had rocked Haryana in February 2016. This particular photograph was carried by the Indian Express in an article dated April 26, 2016.
12. Journalist Rana Ayyub trolled over fake quote by parody account
“Minor child rapists are also human, do they have no human rights. This Hindutva Government is bringing ordinance for death to child rapists just to hang muslims in larger numbers. Muslims aren’t safe in India anymore”. This quote was ascribed to journalist Rana Ayyub. A tweet with this quote was posted by an account @repubIicTv. The tweet and the account were later deleted.
The tweet was from the parody account of Republic TV, whose original Twitter handle is @Republic. Original accounts are distinguished by a blue tick. Ayyub herself in a Facebook post clarified that she had not made any such statement and that it was from a spoof account of the news channel.
13. Old, unrelated photo of mob assault in West Bengal shared as attack on Hindu women
A photograph with disturbing visuals accompanied by provocative text was circulating on social media. According to the post, the Mamata Banerjee led TMC in West Bengal is persecuting the Hindu community in the state. The text along with the picture said, “In West Bengal, TMC’s muslim politicians stripped our Hindu sisters and daughters naked and beat them mercilessly. Hindu girls were humiliated and their honour was publicly sullied. Slogans of Hindu Murdabad were chanted. Friends, please share this. What Hindus in Bengal are facing today, Hindus in the rest of India will face tomorrow” (translated).
कट्टर हिन्दू इस पोस्ट को ज्यादा से ज्यादा शेयर एवं इस पेज को लाइक करें
The claim that this brutality is the handiwork of Muslim political leaders of TMC is false. While the photograph is from West Bengal, it has nothing to do with the current tension in the state. In fact, it has nothing to do with religious communities. The photo was taken in 2014 and the incident had occurred near the village of Kaliabazar in West Bengal. A local ‘tantrik’ and two other men were thrashed by angry villagers after they were suspected of having raped and murdered a seven-year old girl.
(Photo Credit: Featured image by Newslaundry)
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.