On December 17, OpIndia published an article titled – ‘Rajasthan Police ends up declaring a true incident as ‘fake news’ on Twitter’.
OpIndia was referring to Rajasthan police’s reply to Twitter user @Ashok6510, who had tweeted a video of a brawl with the caption – “Muslim workers entered houses of Rajputs in Utambar, assaulted the daughters and sisters and attacked their homes. If the state is such in 5 hours, what will be the torture in 5 years.” In the last sentence, he hinted at Congress’s victory in the recent Rajasthan elections.
राजस्थान पुलिस आपको watch कर रही है। ये एक पुरानी वीडियो है जो झारखंड के रांची की है। आप तुरंत इसे delete करें अन्यथा Cyber Unit को यह case सौंप दी जायेगी।
— Rajasthan Police (@PoliceRajasthan) December 16, 2018
The Rajasthan police tweeted that the video posted in the tweet was from Ranchi, Jharkhand. They warned @Ashok6510 and asked him to delete the tweet. He took down the tweet but its screenshot can be viewed below and an archive link can be accessed here.
The same video has also been shared by other individual users on social media.
उटाम्बर राजस्थान में राजपूतों के घरों में घुसकर के मुस्लिम कार्यकर्ताओं ने बहन बेटियों पर हाथ डाला और घरों पर हमला किया
5 घण्टो में ऐसी हालत तो 5 साल में कितना होगा
Posted by प्रिया अंजलि नागवंशी on Saturday, 15 December 2018
The video was of a June 2018 incident from Ranchi, Jharkhand
The video tweeted by @Ashok6510 actually pertained to an unrelated incident from June 2018 that occurred in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
The incident was reported by several media organisations. According to a Firstpost report, “…communal clashes occurred on 10 June when a crowd at the jam-packed Eid-bazaar in Hindpiri’s Main Road, got into a fight with a group of people holding a bike rally celebrating four years of Modi government. One of the bikes, reportedly hit a woman, triggering clashes in the area.”
“Later that evening, two clerics were attacked on their way back from a Madrassa in Nagri, on the outskirts of the capital and were allegedly forced to chant the name of a certain ‘god’, further inflaming communal passions,” added the report.
A rumour of banned meat found in a temple fueled the tension further, leading to stone-pelting between members of two communities.
A video of the abovestated clashes in Jharkhand was tweeted by @Ashok6510 as communal violence in Rajasthan. The state police had called out this claim and termed it fake news. @Ashok6510 later replied to Rajasthan police that he has deleted his tweet.
— Ashok65 (@Ashok6510) December 16, 2018
However, despite taking down his tweet, @Ashok6510retweeted the OpIndia article discrediting Rajasthan police’s statement. He has also retweeted other tweets that targeted Rajasthan Police.
OpIndia cited two Dainik Bhaskar reports – 1 and 2 – of a similar incident from December. This was picked up by other social media users as well. The media outlet later, however, missed the tweet by @Ashok6510 where he stated that he had deleted his original tweet. A Twitter user also posted a screencast of @Ashok6510’s tweet.
— Azy (@AzyConTroll) December 17, 2018
OpIndia later added an ‘update’ to its story, stating that while the video shared by @Ashok6510 was “wrong”, the narrative was correct. OpIndia blamed the Rajasthan police for not attaching the entire tweet by @Ashok6510, “in the absence of which a real incident was being tagged as fake news”.
The update does little to substantiate OpIndia’s report as the media outlet itself did not ‘fact-check’ the video attached to the tweet, only the narrative.
Results of the recent assembly elections have given rise to misinformation claiming violence in states where Congress came out victorious. Recently, a video from Gujarat was shared as an incident of rioting after the party won in Rajasthan. Many other such false claims (1, 2) suggested Pakistani flags and pro-Pakistan slogans were raised at Congress rallies. While Rajasthan police have been trying to prevent the spread of misinformation, OpIndia came out in support of a handle circulating fake news. The cycle of disinformation gains further momentum when media outlets themselves attempt to discredit the truth.