Social media users have been sharing an image of a billboard and encouraging people to boycott China-made products this Diwali season. The text on the hoarding suggests that the message was issued by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). It also features an image of an Indian soldier. The original Hindi message on the sign reads, “I won’t let the Chinese enter our borders, and you shouldn’t buy made in China products this Diwali. Let’s fight together.” This photo has gone viral at a time when India-China tensions escalated, following skirmishes along the LAC earlier in June. The border tensions also prompted the Indian government to ban 224 Chinese mobile applications, citing security concerns.
Ashwani Mahajan, columnist and national co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, had tweeted the image. (archive link). The Swadeshi Jagran Manch is an organization that supports the RSS.
— ASHWANI MAHAJAN (@ashwani_mahajan) October 24, 2020
Another Twitter user posted this viral photo. (archive link)
— राजेश केसरी (@rajeshk9835455) October 26, 2020
Alt News performed a reverse image search and found a similar picture on a Facebook page called ‘R.K. Agencies‘. It was uploaded on October 5, 2017. ‘Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Chittorgarh’ can be seen written below the hoarding in this picture. It is clear that the original image has been tampered with and the words “Indo-Tibet Border Police Team” have been inserted in the place of ‘Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Chittorgarh’. This edited photo has now gone viral, and those sharing the image believe that the call to boycott Chinese products was issued by the IBTP.
Comparing the two photos side by side confirms that the viral image is morphed.
On October 28, 2020, PIB Fact Check tweeted that the viral image was fake. According to the tweet, no such call to boycott Chinese products was issued on social media by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police force. This tweet was also retweeted by ITBP’s official Twitter handle.
The Quint also published a fact-check report about this picture on October 29, 2020. Here, Satish Kumar Acharya, part of the print and publication team for the Manch’s Chittorgarh unit, confirmed this sign had been installed by them.
Therefore, a hoarding issued by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch a few years ago was edited and falsely linked to the recent Indo-China border dispute. Users were claiming that through this hoarding, the ITBP had issued a call to the people of the country to boycott Chinese products on Diwali.