BJP Chhattisgarh on September 30 tweeted images of three expressways and captioned them as – “विश्वास से विकास का सफर।
#BadhtaChhattisgarh (The journey from trust to development #BadhtaChhattisgarh),” obliquely accrediting itself with the construction of the roads in the pictures.
— BJP Chhattisgarh (@BJP4CGState) September 30, 2018
Alt News cropped the pictures and searched for them individually to ascertain the origin of each image.
When we reverse-searched this photograph on Google, multiple links of media portals that have used the same image came up. Among them was – a 2018 Dainik Jagranreport, a 2017 article by Odishatv, a 2016 India Today report, a 2014 report by NMTV, and more. Not only Indian media but we found that the image was also used by Pakistani (1,2) and Bangladeshi portals as well.
While rummaging through other outlets that have shared this photograph, we came across a 2016 report by Financial Express. Alt News reverse-search the image on Google once again and found a Times of Indiareport with the identical picture of a better quality. If one carefully notices this photograph, there is a signage on the left side of the crossroad. While one of the words – “Vadodara” – is clearly visible on the board, the other word appears hazy. However, the scope of the search was truncated to highways that run through Vadodara, Gujarat.
Subsequently, we Googled ‘Vadodara Expressway’, which is National Expressway 1 (NE-1) or Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway. Scrolling through images of this highway on Google landed us on a gujaratmoney.com link that had shared a picture similar to the Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway image, but taken from another angle. The signage on the left side of the crossroad was identical and another signage located at the far end of the photograph was placed at the same spot on both the pictures.
One can clearly read the crossroad signage on the gujaratmoney.com image. It says – “Vadodara” and “Nadiad” therefore, conclusively establishing that the photograph shared by BJP Chattisgarh does not pertain to a highway in the state but is of the Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway.
Alt News reverse searched this image on Google and came across several links that had shared the identical photograph. Among them was a News18report from 2014 on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway and a 2016 Amar Ujalalink which captioned the image as “Road in Chamba”.
While we could not establish the origin of the photograph, we were able to trace it as far back as 2013. None of the links that we found stated that the image was of a road in Chattisgarh.
A Google reverse search of the third image unveiled a plethora of links to stock photography websites. Among them was a Shuttershock link that redirected us to a section “Toronto Traffic Photos” on the website. Here, we found that the identical image was uploaded by a photographer named Elena Elisseeva.
Alt News also found the photograph in the stock images of a Canadian website CanStockPhoto. If one zooms in on the picture, the driver can be seen sitting behind the wheel on the left whereas, in India, all vehicles have wheels on the right.
While Shutterstock included the image as part of “Toronto Traffic Photos” and the photographer is also from Canada, Alt News could not independently confirm the origin of the picture. However, the evidence at hand conclusively establishes that it was not shot in India.
Photographs depicting infrastructural development have often been shared as achievements of the ruling party. Last year, Chhattisgarh PWD minister Rajesh Munat passed off a Vietnamese bridge as one in Raigarh; a digital impression of Rajkot Bus stand was circulated by BJP MP Babul Supriyo as the real image; the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways posted pictures of roadways from US and Canada on its parivahan website. With enough pieces of evidence suggesting that “development” photographs are often circulated to espouse propaganda, self-verification is pertinent.