On March 11, ANI reported that a billboard was put up in Greater Toronto, Canada to thank Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for providing COVID-19 vaccines to the country.

Soon after, nearly every media outlet carried the news. Amar Ujala’s piece on print was headlined, ‘Canada praises India after receiving COVID vaccines’.

Zee News reported, “In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, PM Narendra Modi has provided vaccines to countries around the world. He is being praised in Canada and on the streets of Greater Toronto. Billboards have been put up that thank Prime Minister Modi. ”

CNN News18 ran the news during a broadcast.

It was widespread on mainstream media.

Alt News also received a verification request for the claim on its mobile application.

Fact-check

While billboard thanking PM Modi was indeed sighted in Canada, news reports did not mention that they were put up by the organisation ‘Hindu Forum Canada’.

Hindu Forum Canada had in fact tweeted that the organisation installed a billboard to thank the Indian Prime Minister.

What is the Hindu Forum Canada?

The website of the organisation states that it was set up under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act to combat Hinduphobia. A section on the website reads, “Hinduphobia becomes ever so clear when the world media unproportionally reports the instant uproar of a crime against a Christian or a Muslim, but little in the case when it comes to Hindus…Quite a few killings of RSS/BJP workers have taken place in Kerala recently, notwithstanding the uproar, we hardly find a mention of these crimes against Hindus in either print or digital. [sic]”

Hindu Forum Canada President is Nageshwar Rao Yendamuri, whom Narendra Modi had addressed in a letter dated August 11, 2006 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Yendamuri was convicted of immigration fraud by the Canadian government in 2017. A report in CTV News published in 2015 says that he was arrested under similar charges six years ago. “The CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) said Yendamuri was arrested last week in Toronto and is facing 44 charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for counsel misrepresentation and misrepresentation. He is also facing 44 charges under the Criminal Code for forgery and use of forged documents.” He was out on bail with a $100,000 bond.

Hindu Forum strongly supports the Citizenship Amendment Act and the farm laws introduced by the Modi government.

The organisation praises PM Modi, including his work for farmers, on its Facebook page. We found that on February 5, 2021, the page had also shared misinformation aired by Sudarshan News. This was an old video where a bus was attacked by Nihang Singhs and the incident was given a ‘Khalistani’ angle. Alt News report on the video can be read here.

How is India supplying vaccines to Canada?

The website of the Canadian government states that the country will procure 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine supplied by AstraZeneca and two million doses of the same vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and its Canadian partner Verity Pharma.

According to the website of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, 0.5 million doses were delivered to Canada on March 2. This is listed under ‘commercial’ sales agreement.

Canada also has agreements to purchase 44 million vaccines from Moderna and 76 million from Pfizer.

Out of the millions of vaccines being purchased by the Canadian government, SII is providing a small portion of two million doses. Till now, half a million vaccines have been delivered.

Media outlets reported partial information about the hoarding installed in Canada to thank PM Modi for COVID vaccines. It was put by Hindu Forum Canada, not the Canadian administration. Furthemore, SII is providing 2 million does of vaccines to Canada as part of commercial sales.

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About the Author

Priyanka Jha specialises in monitoring and researching mis/disinformation at Alt News. She also manages the Alt News Hindi portal.