Here is an interesting variant to fake news – one where genuine news gets labelled as fake. This is a story about restrictions on the sale of eggs and meat in Dadri and other places along the path of the annual Kanwar Yatra.

On July 19th, Navbharat Times (@NBTDilli) journalist, Shyam Vir reported from Greater Noida about restrictions in Dadri area on sale of eggs, chicken and mutton due to an order by the local SHO.

This was later tweeted by the official NBT handle in English saying Eggs or Non-veg not to be sold in Greater Noida till the completion of KanwarYatra, Dadri SHO asks meat shops to shut.

The two tweets may seem the same at first glance but while the reporter had stated that the restrictions were limited to Dadri, the translation conveyed that the restrictions were in the entire Greater Noida area. This was perhaps a case of the message lost in translation but not a deliberate attempt to spread fake news.

The tweets led to outrage all around. There were those who questioned why the restrictions have been put in place. There were others who pointed out that the news of restrictions in Greater Noida was not true.

In this outrage, it was forgotten that the original story was about the ban on sale of meat and eggs in Dadri. Greater Noida dominated the discussion. A grocery bill from Greater Noida became a tool to discredit the journalist and the media house, shifting attention from Dadri to Greater Noida. NBT too did not acknowledge or clarify it as an inadvertent error.

This was also the subject of an article by OpIndia accusing media of spreading fake news about banning eggs and meat in Greater Noida.

Were there restrictions on the sale of eggs and non-veg food?

While there were no restrictions in all of Greater Noida as some had interpreted due to the @NBTDilli tweet, there were curbs on sale of non vegetarian food in some “sensitive areas” along the route. Several media outlets reported these, quoting police officials.

As reported by Indian Express, restrictions on sale of non-vegetarian food were put in place to prevent the occurrence of any “untoward incident”. Suniti, SP (Rural) of Gautam Buddha Nagar told Indian Express, “This happens every year at the time of kanwar yatra. Some sensitive spots have been identified where there are possibilities of clashes. In order to prevent any untoward incident, stalls selling objectionable items have been asked to close down till the kanwar yatra ends.” The “sensitive” areas included portions of the Grand Trunk Road, especially those near Dadri, part of Jewar-Bulandshahr highway and areas in Rabupura. The SP said, “We have asked some shop owners to cover their shops and hawkers have been asked to move from the route taken by kanwariyas to bylanes or another road.”

Restrictions in Dadri were confirmed by Ram Sen Singh, SHO, Dadri police station, who told Times of India, “We have also removed vendors serving non-vegetarian food. They will be off the road till the religious season of kanwar yatra is on.” TOI also reported that on Wednesday evening, the police conducted an inspection of the dhabas along the roadside and asked the non-vegetarian dhabas to shut down for one week.

In a subsequent tweet, NBT also tweeted pictures of closed shops as well as the complete news write-up that clarified that the restrictions were limited to Dadri.

Are these routine restrictions that are in place every year?

Police sources positioned the restrictions as a “routine measure”. Noida police tweeted in response to Shyam Vir’s tweet saying the restrictions on sale of eggs and meat along the path of Kanwarias were customary to avoid hurting religious sentiments of the Kanwarias.

Media reports stated that last year too there were demand for closure of meat shops in Dadri by radical organisations. As per Indian Express, last year, members of Gau Raksha Hindu Dal had tried to forcibly shut down meat shops in the area after their request to the administration to close down these shops had been turned down. Ved Nagar, President, Gau Raksha Hindu Dal is quoted in Indian Express as saying, “This year, we had approached the administration with the same demand — close all shops selling meat, fish, eggs and alcohol till Shivaratri. The administration has acted on our request and taken this measure.”

There is enough evidence to support tighter restrictions this year with regard to closure of meat shops in Dadri. Multiple media organisations have reported it but because of one misleading tweet of @NBTDilli, the news of Dadri has been crowded out by discussions about grocery bills in Greater Noida.

However, despite being pointed out by many that the news is not fake, the fake news allegations continued to be made.

Kanchan Gupta Apologise? I shall repeat what I said. NBT hawked fake news saying eggs and meat banned in Noida/Gr Noida. And you pushed that bogus story.