BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC, Prashant Patel, a Supreme Court lawyer, Rupa Murthy, an author of fake news site postcard.news, and Vivek Bansal, a BJP social media volunteer, are among many who circulated an old picture of the victim who was allegedly stalked by Haryana BJP Chief Subhash Barala’s son Vikas Barala. They are circulating this picture with the narrative that the victim is with the accused Vikas Barala in the said picture. Prashant Patel tweeted, “So called victim daughter of IAS from Chandigarh with Vikas Barala. This story is as true as like Jasleen Kaur of Delhi & of Rohtak Sisters.” Many others picked up that image and made it viral on social media with the aforesaid narrative narrative.
A Facebook page called ‘The Illogical Indian‘ put out the same picture with the title, “Chaste Girl with her Stalkers! #MediaHitJob?“.
A Facebook page called “Narendra Modi – a hope for better India” even put out a comparison by juxtaposing the accused’s picture with the image of the victim and her friends. Yet, something which was screamingly obvious to the naked eye, that the accused Vikas Barala is not in the picture did not seem obvious to these folks.
Alt News spoke to the victim and she stated that the image is many years old and the accused Vikas Barala is not present in the image. An old unrelated image was yet again used for victim shaming and spreading a false narrative. Ironcially, it was a Supreme Court lawyer who started the false narrative. Prashant Patel has been caught spreading fake images multiple times in the past.
However, the victim shaming wasn’t limited to this image. Kuldeep Barala, who has now deleted the following post, went on to claim that the victim herself was inebriated while she was driving according to his ‘sources’. To prove his point, Kuldeep Barala downloaded a picture from the victim’s Facebook album and used it as an attachment. The picture showed the victim sitting on a table with a few glasses of seemingly alcoholic drinks. Alt News spoke to the victim and she confirmed that the image is a few months old.
The strategy adopted here is similar to how a fake video was circulated by the Indian right-wing claiming that Gurmehar Kaur was drinking and having a merry time in a moving car. The idea is to character assassinate a woman by showing that she’s having a merry time as significant sections of the Indian society still look down upon women who drink. The idea is to portray that the woman lacks character and ‘deserves’ what she got.
Haryana BJP Vice President Ramveer Bhatti’s statement is also along the same lines, the narrative being, why did the victim stay out so late in the night.
And this mentality seems to pervade through the rank and file of the party in Haryana. The chief minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, in his election campaign had said:
With multiple CCTV cameras along the route of stalking being non-functional, with the accused already out on bail, with senior BJP leaders in Haryana indirectly shifting the blame to the victim, will the victim get justice? Will the platforms like Facebook and Twitter get their act together and take action against those who are misusing old images and building a fake narrative against the victim? Or will the rich and powerful subvert justice yet again?
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.