Fake quote: Wg Cmdr Abhinandan Varthaman said, “Pulwama attack, a BJP conspiracy”

“पुलवामा हमला बीजेपी की सोची समझी साजिश थी -विंग कमांडर अभिनंदन (Pulwama attack was a well-planned conspiracy of the BJP -Wing Commander Abhinandan -translated)”, reads a message posted along with a newspaper clipping, which is being circulated on social media.  The clipping has attributed a quote to IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. It said, “पुलवामा हमला बीजेपी की सोची समझी साजिश थी और पाकिस्तान पर नकली हमला करवाया, मोदी को चुनाव जीतने के लिए इमरान खान मदद कर रहा है। बालाकोट पर बमबारी इमरान खान की सहमति से हुई है (Pulwama attack was a well-planned conspiracy of the BJP whereas the attack on Pakistan was a sham. Imran Khan is helping Modi win the elections. Balakot airstrikes were conducted with Imran Khan’s permission -translated)”.  The newspaper clip attributing the said quote to an IAF pilot, who was directly involved in the Balakot airstrike, comes across as a statement injecting credibility in the narrative of the attack being a BJP conspiracy.

Many other individuals on Facebook and Twitter have shared the clipping with the identical narrative.

Fact-check

The statement credited to Varthaman is atypical of a serving officer of the armed forces, wherein he is directly raising allegation against the ruling party, let alone any political party. Had Abhinandan Varthaman issued such a statement levelling allegations of sabotage against the ruling party, it would have been reported extensively and would have led to a huge political furore, to say the least.

On searching for credible media reports on Google News, we found no reports that have attributed the said statement.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman hasn’t been much in the public eye since the time he was captured by the Pakistan army and later released and handed over to India on March 1, 2019. However, he was recently in the news after a video of him interacting and taking selfies with fellow colleagues went viral on social media and was reported by the media.

Fact-checking the newspaper clipping

Alt News found that the newspaper cutting, which is currently being circulated on social media, was clipped from a fact-check article published by Dainik Jagran regarding the statement ascribed to Varthaman. The fact-check by Dainik Jagran also arrived at the same conclusion- the quote is fake.

In conclusion, a newspaper clipping of a fact-check article, which had determined that a quote attributed to IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is fake, was in-turn circulated on social media to inject credibility to the same quote.

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