Recently, Congress MLA Kunal Choudhary tweeted a photo purportedly of a child being taken to a temporary jail facility by the Indore police. The young boy can be seen holding some grocery staples like flour and oil. Choudhary wrote, “This child’s only crime was that he stepped out to get groceries for his family, and now he is being taken to a temporary jail. Shame on the Indore administration!” More than 5,600 handles retweeted the post. (Archive link)
Former MLA and Secretary of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee Satyanarayan Patel also posted the photo and viral claim. It had amassed over 1,200 shares at the time of writing.
Twitter user Shazia Tasneem wrote, “Madhya Pradesh: Indore, This boy is being taken to a temporary jail because he stepped out to buy groceries for his family. If he was in West Bengal, he would have received Rs. 500 to attend a rally.” This racked up over 900 retweets at the time of writing. (Archive link)
A media portal called Newstrack even published a story on the incident.
Photo of boy in Delhi auto
A closer look at the viral image establishes that the boy is sitting inside an autorickshaw, and not a police vehicle. Those familiar with the tempos that run in several North Indian cities (or the Gramin Sewa transport vehicles in Delhi) would know that he is not sitting inside a police car.
Alt News performed a reverse image search and found no other versions of the photo apart from the one in the Newstrack article. Only social media posts appeared in the search results. A user had posted a screenshot of an Instagram post in reply to Shazia’s tweet and wrote that this claim was false.
शर्म आनी चाहिए झूठ फैलाते हुए।
लेकिन तू तो थे खान्ग्रेसी
और क्या कर पाओगें pic.twitter.com/03D2P0SszB
— Himanshu Jain (@Himanshu96291) April 22, 2021
The Instagram post is by the handle @inquallabi_soch. The caption discusses the lockdown in Delhi and the difficulties it brought for labourers.
We performed a keyword search on Facebook and Twitter using parts of the text from this caption. This led us to a number of Facebook posts, including one by Bharat Nbs. Several users attributed the image to Bharat. He had uploaded the photo on April 19 and we could not find any other post containing the picture before this date. In fact, a user commented on Bharat’s post informing him that the photo was viral with a false claim.
आज रात से दिल्ली में अगले सोमवार तक लॉकडाउन है। इस बच्चे को भी इस बात का इल्म है कि लॉकडाउन लगते ही, कोई सरकार कुछ नही…
We reached out to Bharat and asked him if he had taken this picture. “I took this picture at Madhuban Chowk in Delhi. It was taken inside a Gramin Sewa vehicle. This boy was going towards Rithala, to his house. I spoke to him and he told me that he lived in Rithala. I took this picture of him during our conversation”, he revealed.
He shared the picture with us via email and an examination of its EXIF data confirmed that it was indeed taken by Bharat. He also shared a screenshot of his phone’s photo gallery. Bharat told us that through the photo, he was trying to show that the system had failed, and how no one was coming to the aid of the working class in such difficult times.
Therefore, a photo of a child in a Delhi auto was falsely circulated as the Indore police taking him to a temporary jail. It is noteworthy that those flouting lockdown rules in Indore are being taken into custody and placed in temporary jail facilities.