An alleged cutting of the ‘Times Business’ page of ‘The Times of India’ (Chennai edition) is viral on social media. It is written on the page that the government has incurred a loss of 2.8 lakh crores in the auction of the 5G spectrum. Furthermore, the number ‘2800000000000000’ is written in the headline to display the loss. Several social media users, leaders and accounts associated with the Congress party shared it as the ‘5G scam’ of the BJP.

Writer Ashok Kumar Pandey tweeted the cutting of the newspaper and wrote, “Count the zeros and tell me, in how many days will the ED raid on The Times?” (Archive link)

Congress leader Pankhuri Pathak also tweeted the picture and called it the ‘5G scam.’ (Archive link)

RLD leader and former journalist Prashant Kanojia also made the same claim. (Archive link)

This cutting of the newspaper was tweeted by many social media users including Uttar Pradesh Congress, Bihar Youth Congress, NSUI Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh Congress Sevadal, Daman and Diu Congress Sevadal, Congress leader Vinay Kumar Dokania, and DMK leader T R B Rajaa.

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We observed the newspaper cutting carefully and noticed that there was a mismatch between the figures given in words and the figures written in digits. The figure provided in digits has fourteen zeros after ’28’, which means 2800 lakh crores, while the figures given in words are written as ‘2.8 lakh crores’.

Next, we noticed that the viral newspaper cutting had the byline of The Times of India’s National Editor Pankaj Doval. Taking this clue, we checked Pankaj Doval’s Twitter account and found that he had tweeted the page of Times Business on August 2. It is worth noting that the picture tweeted by him is similar to the viral image, however, it does not have the headline seen in the viral cutting.

To probe further, we matched the viral cutting with the news published in The Times of India (Chennai edition) dated August 2, 2022, and found that it is edited. In fact, the newspaper did not print anything about “a loss of 2.8 lakh crores” in the 5G spectrum auction. The original paper had written about the earning of 1.5 lakh crores in the auction of 5G spectrum by the government.

To sum it up, several politicians, accounts associated with the Congress party and social media users tweeted an edited image of the ‘Times Business’ page claiming the 5G spectrum auction to be a record-breaking scam. Whereas in reality, the original cutting of the newspaper had written about the earning of 1.5 lakh crores during the auction of the 5G spectrum.

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About the Author

Abhishek is a senior fact-checking journalist and researcher at Alt News. He has a keen interest in information verification and technology. He is always eager to learn new skills, explore new OSINT tools and techniques. Prior to joining Alt News, he worked in the field of content development and analysis with a major focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).