Dainik Jagran, Punjab Kesari misreport youth in Punjab throws notes laced with spit

On April 25, Twitter user Hatinder Singh posted a video report by ‘Daily Post Punjabi’, with the message, “In Phillaur, Punjab, This Man Was Caught Throwing Notes On The Road After Spitting And Licking Them, A Security Guard Passing From There Saw This And Told Him To Pick Those Notes To Which He Refused So The Guard Called Police And Doctors. He Is Taken Into Custody We Are Doomed.” In the video, a reporter can be seen providing information about the incident.

On April 25, Dainik Jagran reported, “This man got out of a factory and started throwing Rs 2000, Rs 500 and Rs 100 notes on the road after spitting on them. People informed the police after seeing him throw the notes. The police reached the spot, searched, and nabbed the person who threw the notes. Police informed that the person, who threw the notes, was made to wear a PPE kit and is being sent to Jalandhar. The person will be tested there. After the report comes out, the police will take further action. Police have informed that the person is migrant and works in a factory here. It is being said that he is a resident of UP’s Sonbhadra.” (archive link)

Punjab Kesari too reported this incident. Their report says, “The person nabbed by the police has been identified as a young resident of Uttar Pradesh and this youngster works at a local contractor’s (place) and Rs 10, 20, 50, 100 notes, which were thrown, were also found on him. Police got hold of that youngster and he is being sent to Jalandhar civil hospital for coronavirus test. For time being, the police are investigating the matter.” (archive link)

Fact-check

With a keyword search on Facebook, we found a seven-minute report by Ambedkar Mission news channel‘ from the spot of the incident. In the video, we can see the person wearing a PPE kit. This video shows almost the complete series of events.

At the beginning of the video, a person says that the accused was nabbed while spitting on a Rs 2000 note. He also talks with the security guard who had called the police to the spot. The guard’s statement is important in the case as he is an eye witness. Around 1:10 minute in the video, when the guard is asked what he saw, he says, “He [accused] was [leaving] after throwing the note there. Then, I asked him to pick it up. Later, I called the police. They said that it’s wrong and we will see what’s the problem.”

At 4:44 minutes, the policemen can be heard asking the guard to give an accurate description of what he saw. “I saw him throwing Rs 10 note while I was going to my duty,” he responds. The guard is then asked if he saw the person putting his spit on the note. The guard says, “There is no guarantee of him spitting. I just saw him throwing Rs 10 note.”

For the third time at 5:43 minute in the video, the health workers and the police can again be heard asking the security guard – “Tell us what exactly happened?” The guard responds, “He was standing near a truck. I saw him throwing it. I scolded him and asked him to pick it up and later called the police.”

ਦੇਖੋ ਕਿਸ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਫਿਲੋਰ ਵਿੱਚ ਸੜਕ ਤੇ ਨੋਟਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਥੁੱਕ ਲਗਾ ਕੇ ਸੁੱਟਦੇ ਵਿਅਕਤੀ ਨੂੰ ਕੀਤਾ ਗਿਆ ਕਾਬੂ

Posted by Ambedkar mission news channel on Friday, 24 April 2020

It may be noted that the guard was asked thrice if he saw the youth spitting on the notes and he said that he did not. Health workers at the spot were also questioned and they said that the youth was possibly drunk or mentally disturbed.

We then performed a Google search for updates on the incident and found a YouTube video. Local channel One News 18 published a video on April 25. It was titled, “Person caught throwing a note on the road after spitting on them! a complete report of the viral news.”

The manager of the factory where the person worked and the police are giving statements in this video. The police say, “The boy is not mentally fine. Today he was roaming around here and there, after stepping out of his house. The guard saw him picking up his Rs 10 note that fell. The medical team is doing a check-up. We will register a case upon getting the check-up report.” The anchor asks the police how much money did the person have approximately. The police said that he had only Rs 10. When the anchor specifically asked about a Rs 2000 note, the police clearly denied that the youth was carrying Rs 2000.

We contacted Phillaur SHO Mukthiar Singh to confirm the details. He also said that the boy is not mentally stable. “The boy has been taken to Jalandhar civil hospital and a team for coronavirus came from there. He was released after his report came negative. He was mentally upset. He is a resident of UP. His name is Kanhaiyalal and he works in Parle factory. He wanted to go home but everything is closed right now. He was worried and he left his factory. He was closed up in the factory for many days. He wasn’t throwing the note after spitting on it. He hardly had Rs 40 including the Rs 10 note. It’s all false that he was doing it to spread coronavirus,” informed the SHO.

In the YouTube video posted above, it is being said, “At the time, there were many rumours doing the round. The rumours are spreading more than the actual news, hence stay alert. According to the complete information, the investigation revealed that he was a labourer working at a Parle factory in Bachhowal village near Phillaur and was very far from his home. He wanted to go to his village. Maybe due to this and due to his mental condition, he came to Phillaur and started roaming here. He had a Rs 10 note which fell. A security guard saw him lifting the note. The guard immediately informed the police. Phillaur SHO Mukhtiar Singh along with his team and then informed a team of doctors. Speaking to the media, SHO said that as the mental condition of the person is not good, the factory manager has been called here and 108 has also been called. Residents of Phillaur shouldn’t pay attention to the rumours and there is no reason to worry.”

Therefore, most of the information regarding the incident was already out there on April 25 as shown in the video. However, some of the media outlets didn’t bother to include important details in their reportage. It is important to also note here that while the person had only Rs 10 note with him, Dainik Jagran reported that he had thrown Rs 2000 and Rs 500 notes after spitting on them and Punjab Kesari reported that he had Rs 10, 20, 50, 100 notes on him. In both the reports, the information given by the security and health workers present at the spot is missing. Even if we assume that these details hadn’t come out the time of reporting, both media outlets are yet to update their stories. News reports with incomplete information during the prevailing atmosphere can lead to fear and panic.

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