On September 23, a day after Popular Front of India (PFI) offices across the country were raided by multiple law-enforcement agencies, a protest by PFI activists in Pune created a huge row as many political leaders and media houses claimed that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans were raised at the protest.

Alt News debunked the claim on September 25 and proved that the slogans raised by PFI supporters/activists heard in the viral videos did not include ‘Pakistan Zindabad’.

In this context, over the past few days Marathi news channel Saam TV has repeatedly aired a 20-second clip (0:28 of video) from the PFI protest in Pune in their coverage insisting that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ can be heard. They also criticized Alt News’ fact check from September 25, claiming that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ could be clearly heard in the clip.

The footage aired by Saam TV consists of a close-up shot of a man wearing a pink shirt inside a police van. He can be heard sloganeering from the van itself. The camera then pans away from the pink-shirted man and points to the crowd of protesters. At the end of the 20-second clip, the police van can be seen moving away.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYCGUw3hqEk?start=28]

Executive editor of Saam TV News Prasanna Joshi seems unconvinced by the previous Alt News fact-check in a 22-minute video uploaded by Saam TV. He goes on to make his viewers listen to the same footage and insists that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ can be heard.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d75_T8h44o?start=744]

A clip from Saam TV’s coverage subsequently went viral. Twitter users, including Aaj Tak news anchor Shubhankar Mishra, shared it claiming that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ could be heard in the video.

Advocate Ashutosh J Dubey, who identifies himself on Twitter as ‘legal co-convener Of Palghar BJP assembly’, also tweeted the clip with the caption, “In a clear video with clear audio, we can hear that they are shouting “Pakistan Zindabaad” via Saam TV news”.

Fact Check

While denouncing the Alt News fact check of the claims on the sloganeering, Saam TV presented as ‘evidence’ another footage that was filmed during the PFI protest in Pune. The only difference that we noticed between Saam TV’s footage and the footage that we had procured (and used in the previous fact-check) is that Saam TV’s footage has been shot from a much closer angle and was of higher resolution. Saam TV shared an infographic wherein they questioned the agenda behind refuting the ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ claim. They also implied that Alt News had done the fact-check without ‘checking the full video’.

The reader must keep in mind that Alt News had described, in detail, how the previous fact-check had been carried out. We also watched every single footage of the incident that we could procure and went through a strenuous process of locating the exact time frame portraying the viral chain of events (alleged sloganeering) in the videos that had been shot from different angles.

The first thing one does while fact-checking such videos is to reduce the playback speed of the audio/video and carefully listen to the slowed-down version. In the screen-recording below, we play the video at normal speed until 1:04 of the YouTube video. Thereafter, we used YouTube’s in-built tools to slow down Saam TV’s video from the 1:06 mark. Owing to the closer angle at which this footage was shot, one can clearly hear the words ‘Popular Front Zindabad’ being said. This is the most basic verification that the Saam TV team should have done before claiming to have heard Pro-Pakistan slogans.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/754676339]

It is pertinent to note that during a protest, accurate pronunciation of certain words may not be heard due to several factors, such as fatigue after shouting the same phrase repeatedly, overlapping of voices and other external sounds. When one listens to the Policenama live video (7:30) of the PFI protest in Pune, one might notice that ‘Popular’ has been mispronounced as ‘Poplar’ in many instances, including the one in context.

In their broadcast, Saam TV has annotated their video with the text of the slogans with ‘Zindabad Zindabad’ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ written in Hindi. The moment the man in the police van starts the alleged sloganeering, the annotation moves to his mouth, which makes it difficult for us to analyse the video. Consequently, Alt News reached out to Saam TV for the raw footage, which they were kind enough to share with us.

The footage contains one of the key reference points that we have used in the previous fact-check to compare and crosscheck the audio of the viral video with the other videos, that is, the moment of the police van moving away. All of the videos of the protest that we analyzed in the previous fact-check contained this moment, from which we backtracked to the moments of the alleged sloganeering. The police van moves away within approximately 15 seconds from the alleged sloganeering. (The Saam TV footage shows the van moving away at the 20th second, so we have kept a 20-second clip for the readers to see)

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/754677827]

We located the point where the police van moves away in Saam TV’s footage. We subsequently found the point where the alleged sloganeering takes place. Below we have juxtaposed the viral video (left) with the clip from Saam TV footage (right). As the reader might notice, the clip that Saam TV used in their coverage and the one that we have used in our analysis are the same, implying that this was the time frame when the alleged slogans were raised. Additionally, it must be noted that the viral video and the clip used by Saam TV (and us) are from the same time frame.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/754679197]

Phonetic analysis of the slogan

We have cropped the relevant section of the raw footage provided by Saam TV and slowed it down. The moment in the video where Saam TV has used the annotations ‘Pakistan Zindabad’, the primary voice that can be heard is of the man in the pink shirt. The video below shows the 2x slowed-down version of the sloganeering by the person.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/754705121]

Further, upon slowing down the raw footage 4x times, the man in the pink shirt is seen closing his lips thrice in quick succession.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/754709001]

Elementary knowledge of phonetics (the study of human sounds) will suggest that the man in the pink shirt inside the prison van could not have said ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. For the lay reader, Alt News here breaks down his lip movements in terms of phonetics.

The word PAKISTAN consists of five consonants: P, K, S, T and N.

Phonetically, P is a voiceless bilabial plosive. The word ‘bilabial’ is of particular interest to us, which means, in order to utter the consonant, one needs to close one’s lips to stop the flow of air out of the mouths.

None of the other consonants in the word ‘Pakistan’ requires a closing of lips.

  • K is a velar plosive, which means it is pronounced by raising the rear of our tongue at the soft palate.
  • S is an alveolar sibilant which means the sound is made by placing the tip of the tongue lightly against the ridge behind the upper teeth.
  • T is an alveolar plosive. The T sound is made by placing the tip of the tongue against the tooth ridge and the sides of the tongue against the upper side teeth.
  • N is a velar nasal. The sound is made with our nose.

The mouth remains open while we utter all these consonants.

The phrase ‘POPULAR FRONT’ has two bilabial plosives: P and P and one labiodental fricative: F. A labiodental fricative is pronounced by touching the lower lip with upper teeth.

One requires to close one’s mouth thrice to utter the phrase POPULAR FRONT, and that is exactly what the man in the pink shirt does. It is impossible to utter the word ‘Pakistan’ by closing the lips thrice in quick succession.

The reader must remember that it is the vowels in any alphabet that form the crux of a syllable, which in turn, enables us to make meaningful sounds. In that moment of an extreme adrenaline rush, the man in the pink shirt doesn’t clearly utter the vowels — O, U, A and O in the phrase POPULAR FRONT. That is why it might sound like some other word. But a phonetic analysis, as done above, proves beyond a speck of doubt that what is being said has three bilabials, and that can’t be Pakistan.

Thus, after a detailed analysis of all the relevant footage that Alt News had procured in what is now a two-part story, it can be ascertained that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans had not been chanted during the PFI protest in Pune.

Saam TV criticized Alt News for an ‘inadequate’ fact-check and claimed that we had not checked the full video of the incident. Several verified profiles on Twitter also shared a clip from Saam TV’s coverage and furthered this claim. Saam TV provided their own footage as evidence, yet failed to carry out basic verification processes before finding fault with our work in public. A detailed Alt News analysis with proper corroboration shows the reader that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans had not been chanted during the protest.