Screenshots of news articles claiming that the former Finance Minister of West Bengal has announced a waiver of the Goods and Services Tax for Muslim traders have gone viral. While one of these articles doesn’t have the name of its respective publisher or a date, this didn’t stop social media users from sharing this image over several platforms.

Posted by ଶଶାଙ୍କ ଶେଖର ପାଲ on Sunday, 20 March 2022

These images were shared widely on Facebook.

Alt News also got fact-check requests on WhatsApp regarding this news.

Fact Check

One of the viral articles has the watermark of पत्रिका टुडे and was published on the 14th of July 2018. पत्रिका टुडे was found to be an inactive WordPress website. The article in question contains an embedded tweet from the 14th of July itself which has an image of a newspaper report headlined “बंगाल में मुस्लिम व्यसायियों के लिए कर भरेगी राज्य सरकार” (Translation: State government will pay tax for Muslim traders in Bengal)

The report claims that Dr. Amit Mitra, the then finance minister of West Bengal, has stated that the state government would take steps to pay the GST for the Muslim traders belonging to West Bengal as they have been adversely affected by the implementation of this tax. The report also claims that the Mamata Banerjee-led government would open offices that would help the Muslim traders with the filing of taxes.

The authenticity of the news report cannot be established since the name of the newspaper is not visible in the image. We tried reaching out to the Twitter user who had originally uploaded this image, but they did not revert to our messages. We also tried keyword-searching the headline but we could not find any article with the same headline. One conspicuous feature of this article is that the word “व्यवसायियों” in the headline has been misspelled- something that is not commonly seen in mainstream newspapers.

We also tried searching using keywords that are relevant to the article but could not find a single verified news report on this issue. It is unlikely that news as important as this would not be covered by major media houses.

We reached out to the former Finance Minister Dr. Amit Mitra, who denied these claims by saying that they were “200% false and politically motivated”.

We also reached out to Mr. Nurul Absar who is a trader of ophthalmic laser and diagnostic centers in Kolkata. When asked about the viral social media claim, Absar said, “No subsidies in tax were provided- neither by the state government or the central government. This is fake news.”

Thus it is evident that the claim that the West Bengal government will waive off Goods and Services Taxes for the Muslim traders is false. No such decision was taken.

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.