On April 3, 22 security personnel were killed in an encounter with Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur. Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar published an article on April 5 with the headline, “Video of Bijapur encounter viral!: Naxalites seen fighting with soldiers, pictures viral; press note issued urging soldiers to join the mass movement.”
The story was based on photos and videos viral on social media. “Women are seen carrying food and water with Naxalites. There is also a photo of them cooking. A woman was seen making the Naxalite victory sign. In one image, the Naxalites are lounging in chairs, and another shows their loot of stolen weapons. There is also a picture of members of the Jan Natya Manch with the Naxalites. Dainik Bhaskar does not take responsibility for the authenticity of these images and videos,” read the report.
Several social media users pointed out that Dainik Bhaskar published a photo from a film shoot in Bastar as images of a Naxalite commander.
ये नए दौर की पत्रकारिता है..बस्तर में चल रही फ़िल्म की शूटिंग इन्हें नक्सली वीडियो नजर आ रहा हैं..महिला एक्टर इन्हें नक्सली कमांडर दिख रही है..वो भी विक्ट्री साइन दिखाती..भाई रिसर्च नही कर सकते तो पीछे लगे कैमरे या कुर्सी पर बैठे लोग ही देख लेते.. @rahulpandita @free_thinker pic.twitter.com/BXXDyNHyrl
— संजय ठाकुर (@sanjaythakur6) April 5, 2021
In fact, in the picture with the woman making a victory sign, camera equipment can be seen in the background.
Alt News spoke with Bastar-based `journalist Ashu Tiwari who was present on set during the shoot. “These photos should not have been made public. I don’t know who uploaded them. And they went viral with a false claim. In December 2020, the crew was shooting in the jungles of Jagdalpur, which the police and local administration knew about. We cannot make film’s name and other details public, but I want to make it clear that these pictures are from a film set, and I was also present there. The director of this film is Sampat Jha,” he said.
Tiwari also shared a few pictures of the shoot with Alt News that confirmed this was a film set.
Dainik Bhaskar published the report after the recent Naxal encounter where 22 security personnel were killed. While the story was later taken down, the outlet should have verified the images before publishing.