The State of West Bengal and the ruling TMC party have been targetted with organised misinformation on social media since Mamata Banerjee retained power in the recently-concluded assembly elections. The State has been gripped with violence soon after the results were pronounced, causing deaths of at least 14 people who’ve been claimed to be workers of both the TMC and the BJP. The violence has also given rise to a deluge of false news promoted by members and supporters of the BJP.

BJP supporter Sanjay Dixit posted a screenshot of a tweet that shared a screengrab of a Republic TV broadcast on chief minister Mamata Banerjee shutting down 125 RSS schools in West Bengal. The news has been portrayed as recent.

Editor-in-chief of Vishwavani Daily Vishweshwar Bhat also shared a screengrab of Republic TV broadcast. It is noteworthy that the screengrabs do not carry the date when the broadcast was aired.

BJP UP MLC Sarojini Agarwal too pushed the claim however without any news report corroborating that the TMC government recently banned 125 RSS schools in the State.

Among the BJP supporters who garnered thousands of likes and retweets for the claim were Sandeep Deo, Abhishek Kumar Kushwaha and @PuspendraTweet. The claim is massively widespread on Twitter.

It is also viral on Facebook with the text – “बंगाल में RSS के 125 स्कूलों पर ममता बनर्जी ने लगाया बैन”.

Three-year-old news

A quick Google search would tell us that the news is not recent but dates back to February 2018. The Republic TV broadcast used to peddle the misinformation is below.

A screenshot of the broadcast was shared with the date cropped out. The collage below shows the viral frame.

“The state government has received information on about 493 schools that are inspired by RSS. Out of these, 125 are running without any no-objection certificate from the government. We have already asked these school authorities that will not be able to operate any more. Investigation is on against the remaining schools,” said state education minister Partha Chatterjee in the Assembly on February 20, 2018, reported Hindustan Times (HT).

This was also reported by Firstpost.

HT further added that the minister told journalists outside the Assembly, “RSS or nor RSS, schools have to follow certain norms wielding sticks cannot be taught. We are looking into each case that is being brought to our notice.”

Livemint reported that Chatterjee said the State will not allow schools to teach violence and he also claimed that some of the RSS-backed schools were teaching students religious intolerance. RSS denied having anything to do with these schools under the State’s scanner, the report stated, adding that RSS spokesperson Biplab Ray said it wasn’t the RSS’s mandate to run schools. “The state should pay attention to the madrasas instead, and check what they teach,” said Ray.

A three-year-old piece of news that the West Bengal government banned 125 RSS-run schools has been revived as recent after the BJP was unable to form government in the State.

About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.