A picture of a train painted in bright floral patterns arriving at the ‘Kasaragod-Trivandrum’ station is viral on social media. It is being shared with the claim that it is the Vande Bharat Express decorated for Onam. In the picture, the sides of the railway tracks can be seen elaborately decorated with flowers.
X (previously Twitter) user Abhinav Bharat (@GoldDusters) shared it with the caption “Vande Bharat train is decorated for Onam. The m0meen stopped pelting stones for a day to show that celebrating Onam in Kerala is about harmony & not for Hindu. Kasargod, Kerala is district where villages follow Shariah. Entry with Indian ID is prohibited 11 places as per media” (Archive)
Vande Bharat train is decorated for Onam. The m0meen stopped pelting stones for a day to show that celebrating Onam in Kerala is about harmony & not for Hindu.
Kasargod, Kerala is district where villages follow Shariah. Entry with Indian ID is prohibited 11 places as per media pic.twitter.com/YFMnsIzSNK
— Abhinav Bharat 🇮🇳 (@GoldDusters) August 29, 2023
The tweet sparked a furry of communal comments. A user named Monidipa Bose Dey (@monidipadey), whose bio describes her as an author and research scholar, replied, “My friends recently went to Kerala. They came back and told me – no need at all to go there. Almost on the brink of becoming an Islamic state. Only the fear of Indian army is keeping them from openly declaring it. Most temples in ruins or in shabby condition (not repaired after the Tipu and moplah vandalism). Both Hs and Cs live in fear of the Ms. Not worth visiting.”
Another user, @pvish49, shared the same image with the caption: “This is a picture of a railway station in #Kerala specially decorated for #Onam . The flowers near the tracks are real and have been planted specially for the occasion. Onam will be celebrated from 20 August to 2 September#trivandrum” (Archive)
This is a picture of a railway station in #Kerala specially decorated for #Onam . The flowers near the tracks are real and have been planted specially for the occasion. Onam will be celebrated from 20 August to 2 September#trivandrum pic.twitter.com/UyNbVf7qqh
— p viswam (@pvish49) August 26, 2023
On first look, we noticed some irregularities in the image which indicated that it could be AI-generated. A man can be seen randomly standing on a water body on the left side of the image and his reflection also doesn’t show up on the water. The letters spelling out the station name seem to be simply floating up in the air. The part of the image which shows people waiting at the platform, too, looks artificial. On further inspection, we noticed a watermark on the left side of the image that said: “COPPER & BLACK”.
Upon running a reverse image search on the viral image, we came across a Facebook post by user Aneesh Chakkottil on July 29. The user had posted the now-viral image in that Facebook post. On looking through the account of the user, we found that he works at Copper and Black Advertising. In the comment section of the Facebook post, user Aneesh Chakkottil commented multiple times that he had made this image using AI, and it is not a photograph of a real Vande Bharat Express, decorated for Onam. An example can be seen here:
On his timeline, he has also shared a report by the Times of India which confirmed that the image of the Onam special train was AI-generated.
To corroborate this further, We ran the image through various tools such as Hugging Face, Illuminarty, Optic AI or Not and Hive Moderation, which can detect if an image is AI-generated. All four tools gave results that show a high probability that the image is AI-generated.
Onam Special trains were operational as can be seen on the Southern Railway official website. There have been news reports of the same by news outlets Financial Express, The Hindu, Mathrubhumi, and The Times of India, but we couldn’t find the viral image in any of those reports. Also, the reports did not mention that an Indian ID cannot be used to board the train.
Further, we ran a keyword search and found a tweet by DRM Thiruvananthapuram (@TVC138)’s official Twitter account. The tweet carried the viral image with the label ‘Fake’. The caption also mentioned that the image is edited and the claim that the image is from a railway station in Kerala is false. The page also mentioned that the train in the viral image is originally from Kyoto, Japan.
Fake news alert! An edited picture of a colourful train is circulating in social media with a claim that is from a railway station in Kerala. The claim is false. The train in the image is from Kyoto, Japan. Do not fall for fake news! @GMSRailway @RailMinIndia @PIBFactCheck pic.twitter.com/kiArZnygJR
— DRM Thiruvananthapuram (@TVC138) August 25, 2023
The post carries a collage of two pictures, with the viral image on the left labelled ‘Fake’ and another image on the right labelled ‘Original’. Though both the images are not identical, they are similar. We found the image on the right on the website: pngtree.com. The title of the image on the website also mentions the train leaving Kyoto.
We also checked Kasaragod Railway Station on Google Maps, the Street View can be found here. The images available of the station do not match the viral image. The name of the station is written in three languages, unlike that of the viral image.
We can thus conclusively infer, that the viral image is not real and has been generated using Artificial Intelligence. In all likelihood, the image was inspired by a stock image of a train from Kyoto which is available on the internet. Some X (formerly Twitter) users shared the fake image with a communal spin.
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