September 2019 was characterized by ‘diversity’ of misinformation, from photoshopped images to videos which were either mischievously clipped or circulated out of context. Like always, prominent news developments became the fulcrum around which misinformation/disinformation was related. For instance, developments like the Chandrayaan-2 mission, and the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act. The issue of Kashmir and rumours over child abduction spilt over from August and continued to be cause for misinformation. Several media organizations succumbed to misinformation, misreporting news developments.
1. No, Kerala college did not raise Pak flag; media publishes misleading reports
A piece of ‘breaking’ news that was published by several media outlets on August 31 informed that the Kerala police booked 30 students (Times Now reported 25 students) of Silver Arts College, Kozhikode, for allegedly waving the Pakistani flag during the college election campaign.
Apart from Times Now, Times of India, Deccan Chronicle, MyNation, OpIndia and Dainik Jagran were other media outlets that carried similar reports claiming that the Muslim Student Front (MSF) raised the purported flag of Pakistan inside the college campus. It is noteworthy that the word “allegedly” found no mention in the title of any of these stories. A few used the word inside the articles.
#Breaking | 25 students booked in Kerala for waving Pakistani flags in their college as a part of election campaign.
Details by TIMES NOW’s Vivek Karandalam. pic.twitter.com/1kwcMEKiEy
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) August 31, 2019
The flag raised by the students was not the flag of Pakistan, but the banner of the Muslim Students Front (MSF), a student body associated with the UDF.
2. ANI makes absurd claim about Imran Khan’s wife based on photoshopped screenshot
On September 29, multimedia news agency ANI published an article on Pakistan PM’s wife Bushra Bibi with the caption, “Pakistan’s first lady Bushra Bibi’s image does not appear in mirrors: PM House staff”. While quoting an unnamed member of PM House staff, ANI reported that Pakistan’s first lady’s image does not appear in mirrors. The report was based on a screenshot of Pakistan’s Capital TV which read, “پی ایم ہاؤس کے ٹاف کے مطابق خاتون اول کا آئینے میں عکس نظر نہیں آتا (According to PM House staff, Image of the first lady not seen be seen in the mirror.)”
Pakistan’s first lady Bushra Bibi’s image does not appear in mirrors: PM House staff
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) September 29, 2019
While searching for the report by Capital TV, Alt News came across several tweets by the channel calling out ANI and denying that they had published any such report. In one of the tweets, Capital TV blamed ANI and their “irresponsible journalism” for using a “photoshopped poster” with Capital TV’s template. Alt News’s fact-check may be read here.
3. News18, CNBC Awaaz misreport India-US joint army exercise as Howdy Modi preparations
During PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Houston for the ‘Howdy Modi’ event, CNN News18 had tweeted a video of US army playing the Indian national anthem which they claimed was in preparation for PM Modi’s arrival at the Howdy Modi event. “Watch – US army playing the Indian national anthem in preparation for PM @narendramodi’s arrival at the #HowdyModi event,” read News18’s tweet. The same video was also tweeted by CNBC Awaaz.
Alt News’s’ fact check found that the US Army band did play the Indian National Anthem, but it was during the concluding day of the Yudh Abhyas, a joint military training exercise of the Indian and US Army which was conducted at the Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington.
4. Media misreport RTO inspector involved in Bengaluru accident as ‘drunk’
On September 12, a RTO inspector in Bengaluru crashed his vehicle into an auto-rickshaw, seriously injuring the driver. Mirror Now, the English news channel of the Bennett Coleman group, reported the same day with the headline, ‘Drunk RTO inspector rams vehicle into autorickshaw; auto driver battling for life’. News9, a regional news channel based in Karnataka, broadcast news of the accident with the words, ‘Drunk RTO inspector rams car into auto’ and ‘Drunk driving menace’.
Sections of media had clearly misreported the incident. Alt News contacted the electronic city traffic police station, Bengaluru who confirmed that news of the accused being drunk is false. “The person was not under the influence of alcohol. A breath analyzer was used by the traffic police to determine this. Sadly, RTO inspector Manjunath passed away a day after the incident.
5. IANS falls for parody account of Raghuram Rajan, several media outlets follow suit
On September 13, a few media outlets published a story titled – “It’s a sign that you’re hiding real data: Rajan on Goyal faux pas”. The story was on former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s alleged response to the recent gaffe made by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal where he attributed the discovery of gravity to Albert Einstein instead of Isaac Newton.
6. Media misreports US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard as ‘Indian-origin’
“Indian-origin presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard welcomes Narendra Modi on a visit to the US, apologises for not being able to join ‘Howdy Modi’ event”, read the headline of an article published by Firstpost which credited the story to news agency Asian News International (ANI). Several other media outlets including NDTV, The Statesman, The Fress Press Journal, and Moneycontrol have also published articles where it is being claimed that Gabbard is the first Indian-origin woman candidate for the US presidential elections. NDTV and The Fress Press Journal have credited their stories to ANI.
Alt News found that the 37-year-old Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is not of Indian-origin. She has herself publically clarified the same on Twitter in October 2012. It was also reiterated by her in 2014. Moreover, according to an explainer published by The Indian Express, Gabbard was born into a family of American Samoan ancestry, which is native to the US State of Hawaii.
7. Media outlets fall for IPS officer’s false claim about Pak baby smuggled in a bag to Dubai
A 24-second video showing a baby found hidden inside a duffle bag was viral on social media. HGS Dhaliwal, an Executive Director of Security at the Airport Authority of India, had shared the video on September 15 with the caption – “Baby Bagged!! A 5 month old baby was kidnapped and carried to Dubai from Karachi inside a Travel Bag. Fortunately, it was detected at Dubai Airport and the baby was found safe!!” Soon after the tweet went viral, multiple media outlets – Mirror Now, The Tribune, Latestly – wrote articles based on the claims made by Dhaliwal.
Alt News found that the video in question is not recent, but old. In addition, the accompanying claim is false.
8. Clipped video of Ravish Kumar’s 2013 program circulated with misleading narrative, journalists join in
On the day Ravish Kumar traveled to Manila to receive the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award, his critics back at home targeted him using a 35-second video clip. The footage that was widely shared on social media, juxtaposed a 2013 clip of Ravish Kumar’s show on 5% GDP growth with a recent broadcast on the same topic. The video purported to expose Kumar’s ‘hypocrisy’. Several journalists including Deepak Chaurasia had shared the video.
इन्हें सुनिए और इनका असली सच समझिए
इनको GDP से, देश से, युवाओं से, रोजगार से कहीं कोई लेना देना नहीं
शुद्ध धंधेबाज हैं, आज इनके चोर माई बाप जेल में जा रहे हैं, इसलिए विधवा विलाप चालू हैं pic.twitter.com/rxiZj6Rp1T
— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishra_IND) September 5, 2019
The 2013 video is clipped to present a misleading picture. The broadcast is of February 2013 when dismal growth numbers were revealed in the Economic Survey. Alt News accessed the full video and found that Kumar actually started his introduction in a manner almost identical to how he started the same in 2019. Alt News’s fact check may be read here.
9. HW News ran photoshopped image of an old Aaj Tak promo, clarified later
On September 10, HW News broadcast a show anchored by Abhisar Sharma, in which he Sharma flashed a photoshopped image of an Aaj Tak promo on Chandrayaan-2.
So @abhisar_sharma used a photoshopped image to target Modi govt and to show that Media is working for him.
No wonder channels throw him out for fake news.
— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) September 10, 2019
The HW News broadcast had carried a morphed image of a July 22 broadcast by Aaj Tak on the launch of Chandrayaan-2. In the original image, there was no reference to PM Modi.
Chandrayaan-2, ISRO’s ambitious lunar exploration mission, was injected into the lunar orbit in September 2019. Several false claims were circulated with the moon mission as the pivot.
1. Photoshopped promo of ABP News over Chandrayaan-2 shared on social media
A still of what appears to be a promo for an ABP News broadcast featuring anchor Rubika Liyaquat was posted and shared on social media. “मैं बहुत अचंभित थी अभी तक किसी ने नेहरू जी का नाम किऊ नहीं लिया!! आख़िर में ठीकरा फूट ही गया” (“I was surprised why no one took Nehru’s name until now. In the end, it did happen”- translated). The ‘promo’ of the broadcast has the words, “क्या चंद्रयान 2 की असफलता के लिए कांग्रेस ज़िम्मेदार?” (Is Congress responsible for the failure of Chandrayaan-2?”- translated).
मैं बहुत अचंभित थी अभी तक किसी ने नेहरू जी का नाम किऊ नहीं लिया!!
आख़िर में ठीकरा फूट ही गया 😅😅👏 https://t.co/cKAqPPoQAh
— Preeti Chobey (@preeti_chobey) September 9, 2019
The graphic of the ABP News promo featuring Rubika Liyaquat and the Chandrayaan-2 mission is fake. The word Memerao is inscribed on it, suggesting that this could be a meme. Moreover, Alt News could not find such a promo put out by ABP News. Ms. Liyaquat herself rubbished it on Twitter.
2. Fake quote of Ravish Kumar calling ISRO ‘Brahmanical’ and ‘anti-minority’
“Isro is brahmanical and anti-minority; why did it send Vikram to the moon and not Usman, Abdul or Peter? What will be gained from Chandrayaan thousands of crores have been wasted just to take a selfie on the south pole, when even today people are dying for want of food..!” (translated from Hindi).
The above statement was attributed to journalist Ravish Kumar and shared on social media along with a photograph of him.
Alt News found that this quote, viral on social media in the name of Ravish Kumar, is fake. Ravish Kumar himself confirmed that he had never made such a statement. Alt News’s fact-check may be read here.
3. Digitally created images shared as ‘first photographs of Earth’ sent by Chandrayaan-2
Several images are floating on social media as ‘first photographs of Earth take by Chandrayaan-2’. “चंद्रयान-2 ने खींची पृथ्वी माँ की पहली फ़ोटो। आप भी देखिए और निहाल हो जाइए कि हम ब्रम्हाण्ड के कितने अद्भुत स्थल पर रहते हैं। (First photographs of Earth clicked by Chandrayaan-2. You can also see that we live in such an incredible place in the universe.)”, was the message shared along with the pictures claimed to be clicked by India’s moon mission.
Alt News found that all the images shared were either old and digitally created, thus do not represent images transmitted by the Indian spacecraft. For instance, one of the images was uploaded by NASA in 2008. Another was a wallpaper illustration for iPhone. A third was a poster of a movie, and so on.
MOTOR VEHICLES (AMENDMENT) ACT 2019
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019, which stipulates steep penalties for traffic violations, came into effect from September 1. Immediately thereafter, social media was flooded with numerous videos of confrontation between civilians and policemen. These videos were circulated as the aftermath of the implementation of the act.
1. Old video from Karnataka shared as assault on traffic police over steep penalty
“लो काट लो चालान खोल दिया एक भाई ने पुलिस वालो का खोपड़ा (Fine some more, one person broke open a policeman’s skull”- translation). The above message was posted on social media along with a video clip. The video showed a man assaulting a policeman, and the accompanying message claimed this was due to steep penalties imposed by the traffic cops. The video was shared on Twitter and Facebook with identical text.
लो काट लो चालान खोल दिया एक भाई ने पुलिस वालो का खोपड़ा 🤯🤯👇👇👇👇 pic.twitter.com/m85l5noQ2l
— साध्वी मिश्रा 🇮🇳🙏🙏 (@sadhvi006) September 6, 2019
Alt News’s fact check found the accompanying claim to be false. The video was shot in Karnataka in 2018. According to reports, the man was in a drunken state and assaulted traffic policemen who had stopped him because he was not wearing a helmet. It may be noted that the new regulations came into effect from September 1, 2019.
2. Old video of brawl between policemen shared as recent dispute over traffic penalties
After the new regulations on traffic penalties came into force, a video showing a brawl between men in khaki uniforms was shared on Twitter and Facebook, with the caption, “चालान के पैसे का बँटवारे के लिए पुलिस वाले आपस में ही भीड़ गए” (“Policemen clash among themselves over sharing of fines collected”- translation).
— CPभाई #BanEVM #BanGST (@cp4bhai) September 9, 2019
Alt News took a frame from the video and reverse-searched the same on Google using specific key words. The result threw up an article by Deccan Chronicle, dated June 27, 2016, pertaining to the same incident. It was titled, ‘Watch: Uttar Pradesh cops fight over share of bribe, suspended’. The incident had occurred in Lucknow, UP. Obviously, the incident was unrelated to the new traffic regulations.
1. Old image of PM Modi in Davos photoshopped to portray Imran Khan hiding at G7
A photograph where PM Modi is walking in the midst of a group that welcomes the leader was shared on social media. Pakistani PM Imran Khan is seen crouching in the image. “When Modiji entered in to the G-7 conferences hall, everyone assembled in the hall has given the standing welcome to him. One guy among them hides and was not able to either sit or stand. See his condition and find who..?”, read the message attached with the image which attempted to take a jibe at Khan, who was apparently embarrassed by the welcome that PM Modi allegedly received at the recently held G7 conference in France.
With a simple reverse search on Google, Alt News found that an old image from an event in Davos was photoshopped. Imran Khan is not there in the original image. An unidentified man’s face was edited with the face of the Pakistani PM to show him crouching when PM Modi was welcomed with applause.
2. Photoshopped image of Amit Shah-Mamata Banerjee meeting
A photograph of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee with union Home minister Amit Shah, was shared on social media and WhatsApp. In the picture, Banerjee and Shah are jointly holding what appears to be a white envelope with the words ‘Jai Shri Ram’ written on it.
The photograph of Mamata Banerjee and Amit Shah together, is photoshopped. This was confirmed by a simple reverse image search on Google, which revealed the original photograph, in which there does not seem to be any text on the envelope, unlike the words ‘Jai Shri Ram’ inscribed in the photoshopped image.
3. Old image photoshopped to depict Imran Khan surrounded by global political leaders
“Picture of the year ✌ Proud moment for every Pakistani ❤ Indian may use Burnol for this pic”. This message was posted on Facebook along with a photograph, showing Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan surrounded by a host of global political leaders who seem spellbound by him. US President Donald Trump is seen sitting to the right of Imran Khan, while President of Turkey Raccip Tayyip Erdogan flanks him to the left.
The photograph in question is photoshopped. Alt News had fact-checked it earlier when it was shared on social media with a different manipulation- Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting in the centre, surrounded by other leaders. The original picture was clicked at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany in 2017.
COMMUNALISM AND MISINFORMATION
1. Video of woman knifed by a man in Jharkhand viral with a communal angle
A 42-second video clip showing a woman with open wounds on her neck and right cheek, with a mob at a distance seen apprehending the alleged perpetrator who knifed her, was shared on social media. The clip was viral on both Facebook and Twitter with the claim that “Hindu brothers saved a Hindu girl” in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh.
ये घटना है झारखंड के रामगढ़ जिले के पतरातू घाटी की जहां हिन्दू भाइयो की सतर्कता ने एक हिन्दू लड़की की जान बचाई।
शांतिदूत लड़की को मारने के उद्देश्य से घुमाने ले आया था ।। pic.twitter.com/6FORWhdvgs
— ѕαffяσи ℓισи🏇 (@ethan_mi7) September 19, 2019
Alt News found that there is no communal angle to the incident. The incident dates back to September 15, 2019, when a youth named Arvind Kumar knifed his alleged girlfriend suspecting she was having an affair with another man. The incident was reported by Prabhat Khabar and Etv Bharat.
2. Video from Sri Lanka shared as Muslim man in India forced to drink alcohol and cow urine
A video where a Muslim man has his hands tied while a person makes him drink some liquid out of a bottle was shared on social media with the claim, “In India, an old Muslim man is forced to drink Alcohol and cow urine by Indians.”
Alt News found that the video is not from India but from Sri Lanka. The incident was reported by Sri Lankan portals Hiru News and Sri Lanka Muslims. A longer version of the video makes it evident that the man wasn’t force-fed as he does not resist or stop the person from making him drink the water. Our fact-check may be accessed here.
3. Incident of mob assault in Bihar shared with false, communal narrative
On September 27, Prashant Patel Umrao, who has on numerous occasions spread misinformation via his Twitter account, quote-tweeted a tweet by actor Ajaz Khan, accusing the latter of “spreading hatred” and attempting to “create communal tension” in the country. Ajaz Khan had tweeted a photograph of an injured man, claiming he is Abu Kamil, a Muslim teacher in Mahua, Bihar who was beaten up by a mob. Prashant Patel Umrao tweeted that Ajaz Khan is lying, and that Abu Kamil had “raped a girl”, and was beaten up by members of his own community.
Truth is that Abu Kamil raped a girl & was beaten by his community members only. https://t.co/oWcGRIpKVV
— प्रशान्त पटेल उमराव (@ippatel) September 27, 2019
Prashant Patel Umrao’s claim that the injured person seen in the photo, Abu Kamil was thrashed by his own community members for having sexually assaulted a girl, is completely false. Alt News contacted the police and confirmed that there was no truth to this narrative.
4. Video of Hindu ritual shared as “cows forcefully made to run over Muslims in India”
On September 1, Sahibzada Jahangir, the spokesperson of Pakistani Prime Minister on Trade and Investment in the UK and Europe, posted a video wherein a group of men are lying on the road while a herd of cows runs over them. Tweeting the video, Jahangir claimed that Indians are forcing Muslim men as well as children to lie on the road while “dozens of heavy cows” are run over their bodies.
Civilisation at its lowest. Indians forcing Muslims men & children to lie on ground & running dozens of heavy cows over their bodies while the spectators applauding the exhibition. Barbaric & inhuman. Modi developing sick Nazi RSS ideology. pic.twitter.com/ufUnqt2oHX
— Sahibzada Jahangir (@ChicoJahangir) September 1, 2019
Listening to the audio of the clip carefully, the crowd can be heard saying, “haathi godha palkhi jai kanhaiya lal ki”, which refers to Lord Krishna and thus suggests that it is part of some ritual or tradition. With a keyword search on Google, Alt News found a video of the ritual, performed by villagers in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, wherein people voluntarily lie on the road while cows are made to run over them. The ritual is to mark the auspicious day of Ekadashi which follows the Hindu festival of Diwali.
5. Video of scuffle at Mangaluru mall shared with false, communal narrative
“This happened in Mangalore When PEACEFUL students eve-teased girls in a Mall A Hindu interrupted & questioned those perverts But look how PEACEFULs abused & assaulted the Hindu Doesn’t this come under mob lynching? Seculars have consumed Fevicol #IstandwithManjunathShenoy”
Along with the above message, a video clip showing an altercation between some men, followed by a scuffle, was posted on Twitter by Mahesh Vikram Hedge, founder of the website Postcard News, known to spread misinformation. The video is 42 seconds long. For the entire duration, the camera is focused on a young man wearing a brown shirt, who is surrounded by others. Toward the end of the video, he is seen to be assaulted.
This happened in Mangalore
When PEACEFUL students eve-teased girls in a Mall
A Hindu interrupted & questioned those perverts
But look how PEACEFULs abused & assaulted the Hindu
Doesn’t this come under mob lynching?
— Mahesh Vikram Hegde (@mvmeet) September 26, 2019
The incident of altercation and assault had occurred at the Forum Fiza mall in Mangaluru on September 25. Alt News contacted Commissioner of Police, Mangaluru who rubbished the claim spread by Mahesh Vikram Hedge, saying, “Our investigation does not corroborate this version. It is a trivial standoff that happened between youth. One youth was assaulted by a group of another youth. We have registered a case and arrested the accused”.
MISINFORMATION OVER KASHMIR
1. Old image from Muharram procession passed off as Indian army’s atrocities on Kashmiris
“कश्मीर जहां यजीद का लश्कर दिखाई देता है वहां पर हमको बेहतर दिखाई देता है हमारी लाश किसी को नजर नहीं आती हमारे हाथ का पत्थर दिखाई सबको देता है #Save Kashmir#Save kashmri (In Kashmir, where you could see army of Yazeed, where we could see better. No one sees our dead bodies but everyone sees the stones in our hands -translated)”
The above message was shared by a Facebook user with an image of a woman who is profusely bleeding from her head. The message suggests that this image depicts a woman from Kashmir injured by the Indian army
A Google search of the image revealed that the image is not from India. We found an article published by a Shia News website called JafariyaNews.com in February 2005, according to which these images depict the observation of Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram. This picture was posted under the section titled, “Lebanon”, which suggests that the picture could possibly be from there.
2. Sponsored page on Kashmir in The New York Times shared as front page reportage
An image of what appears to be the front page of The New York Times was posted on social media. The text on the newspaper targeted the Indian government over the issue of Kashmir. It read, ‘Kashmir 8 Million under siege by a million soldiers since August 5th’ and ‘The seizing of Kashmir is blatant racism’. The image was shared and retweeted by several Twitter users with the implication that The New York Times has given extensive coverage to the Kashmir issue and has highlighted the alleged human rights violations committed in the region since August 5.
A close look at the image of the newspaper revealed that what was portrayed as reportage by The New York Times, is actually a sponsored write-up. In the bottom left corner of the image, the words ‘Sponsored by International Humanitarian Foundation’ could be clearly seen. A sponsored page was passed off as reportage. Alt News’s fact check may be read here.
3. Video labelled ‘terrorist infiltration’ in Kashmir traced back to police academy in Pakistan
A video of young men wearing bulletproof jackets and carrying assault rifles was shared on social media with the claim that there has been “terrorist infiltration” in Kashmir. The video has the words “Mujahideen Kashmir” written on it and in the first few seconds, a man’s voice can be heard. The words “Jihad” and “Kashmir” are audible in his commentary. Subsequently, the song ‘Ay Watan Tera Ishara Aa Gaya’ is played in the background.
Here is the first proof what I said yesterday about Infiltration of Terrorists.
I don’t post useless things untill and unless I don’t confirm it from my sources. I got confirmation from many people.
Tweet Link:- https://t.co/qitKAMVUtB
— Ibn Sina (@Ibne_Sena) September 2, 2019
Alt News found that the video was actually from a police training centre in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. There were multiple clues in the video which betrayed its origin. Details may be read in the Alt News article.
CHILD ABDUCTION RUMOURS
1. Mentally unstable man beaten by mob in Himachal over false child-lifting rumours
A video of a man hounded by a mob over suspicions of child-lifting was shared on social media with the claim that a gang of child-kidnappers was caught in Nalagarh in Solan district, Himachal Pradesh. “नालागढ़ में पकड़ा बच्चा चोर घिरोर” was the message circulated along with it.
नालागढ़ में पकड़ा बच्चा चोर घिरोर
Posted by Babloo panwar on Sunday, August 11, 2019
Alt News contacted Baddi police, Solan district. After looking at the video, the police informed us that a mentally unstable man was caught and beaten by locals in Salhewal over false rumours of child-kidnapping.
2. Four men dressed as women thrashed in Haryana over false child-kidnapping rumours
A video of four men who are dressed in women’s clothing, being escorted by the police was shared by Facebook page Pehchan Faridabad. Posting the video, the page claimed that these men were child-kidnappers who were arrested by the police in Dheeg locality of Haryana’s Ballabgarh city. “सुरक्षित हुए शहर के बच्चे, पकड़ी गई बच्चा चोरी करने वाली गैंग (The children of the city are safe now, gang of child-kidnapper was nabbed -translated)”, asserted the message.
सुरक्षित हुए शहर के बच्चे , पकड़ी गई बच्चा चोरी करने वाली गैंग
फरीदाबाद : शहर में फतेहपुर बिल्लौच के पास में दीग गांव में बच्चा चोर पकड़े जा चुके हैं। अजीबोगरीब पहनावा पहनकर छुप कर बैठे थे ये चोर प्रशासन और गांव के लोगों ने मिलकर उन्हें धर दबोचा ।
Posted by Pehchan Faridabad on Sunday, August 25, 2019
Alt News found that the men dressed as women were part of a religious dance troupe who had just performed at the nearby village called Sahupura. Alt News also contacted Sadar Ballabgarh police station. It was reiterated by the police that these men were not child-lifters and were actually members of a dance troupe who dressed as women. They were released after verification.
3. Child organ trade rumour: Photo from Syria shared with provocative audio clip
In September, an audio clip was circulated on WhatsApp, with a message in Hindi stating that Tamil Nadu police had found a container full of bodies of children, from which vital organs were missing. It was shared along with a photograph showing bodies of children lying on the ground.
There were two aspects of the claim- the audio message, and the photograph circulated along with it. Alt News had fact-checked this message earlier, when it was shared with the same photograph with which it has been circulated now. There is no truth to this claim. It is a rumour which has been circulating online for at least the past two years i.e. since early 2017. Moreover, the photo itself was clicked in Syria in 2013 after the chemical attack in Ghouta.
1. Fake audio claiming to be Lakshmi Mittal’s commentary on Indian politics viral on WhatsApp
An audio file circulated on WhatsApp in the name of United Kingdom-based steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. India-born Mittal is Chairman of ArcelorMittal, world’s largest integrated steel and mining company. The speaker in the audio file can be heard airing his views on topics like PM Modi, secularism, Hindu identity of India, and Ram Janambhumi. The file was circulated with the message – “This speech was given by Mr Laxmi Mittal (second biggest steel manufacturer of India.)”
There are a number of clues in the clip that give away the fact that Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman of the ArcelorMittal group, is not making these statements. To begin with, the voice and the accent in the audio do match with the available samples of Lakshmi Mittal’s voice. There are other clues too which point out that the speaker is not Lakshmi Mittal. Alt News’s fact-check may be read here.
2. Fake WikiLeaks list on top black money holders in Swiss bank viral on social media
A viral message on social media claimed that WikiLeaks has released a list of top black money holders in Swiss banks. Incidentally, all the individuals named in the list are Indians. “Undigestible news: Indians black money in Swiss bank is Rs. 358,679,863,300,000 (estimated to be 1.3 trillion dollars) this money belongs to 2000 indians who have kept there to evade from tax, This money is enough for our india to become 10 america and become one of the most powerful developed country in the world for next 100yrs..Please raise your hand by forwarding this to all if you have free messages..As an INDIAN I am Forwarding…” read the concluding para of the message.
WIKI LEAKS Published 1st List of black money holders in SWISS bank…… The Top Most 30 members are…..(money is in…
The claim is false. WikiLeaks has not come up with a recent list of Indians who are the top black money holders in Swiss bank. The last report published by the organisation was in January 2019 and it was on the Catholic Church.
3. Video of 2018 California wildfire viral as Amazon forest blaze
With the Amazon fires in Brazil raging incessantly since the beginning of the year, a video went viral on social media. The video is 1:55 minutes long, and has been shot from a car travelling through a region engulfed by wild fire. The video clip is in portrait mode, suggesting that it has been shot from a mobile phone. It was claimed that the video represents the forest fires of the Amazon basin.
Highway in Brazil through Amazon forest on fire
Posted by Zalak Amin on Saturday, August 31, 2019
Alt News took a frame from the video clip and reverse-searched the same on Google, along with specific keywords. We found an article dated November 14, 2018, on a Russian website which was titled, ‘“Don’t cry. Pray”: how a Ukrainian girl and her daughter escape the California fire (video)‘ (Google translation). The video was shot in California during the wild fire of 2018.
4. Shashi Tharoor tweets photograph of former PM Nehru in USSR as USA
On September 23, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted an image of first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi amidst a huge crowd of people. Taking a jibe at ‘Howdy Modi’, Tharoor claimed that this photograph was shot in the US in 1954 “without any special PR campaign, NRI crowd management or hyped-up media publicity.” The online magazine of Indian Youth Congress also shared the image with the identical claim.
A simple reverse-image search on Yandex threw up multiple Russian websites which said that this photograph was shot when Nehru had visited Magnitogorsk in 1955. “In August 1955, Jawaharlal Nehru came to Magnitogorsk with his daughter Indira Gandhi. The car – an open “Victory” – was “cut off” by the people from the motorcade,” reads an article in MagMettal. Alt News’s detailed fact-check may be read here.
5. Is burning of American flag unlawful in the US? Gautam Gambhir shares a fake quote
BJP MP Gautam Gambhir shared an infographic on September 4 which ascribed a quote to former US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis – “Forget Jail: If you burn the American Flag, you’ll spend two years in the military. I promise you, you’ll be cured of the desire to burn a flag ever again. You’ll be waving in, saluting it, or lying under it.” It also carried the words, “This should be implemented in our country too” – suggesting that regulation punishing citizens for burning the American flag by enrolling them in the military exists in the US.
Alt News found that this is a fake quote. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis had never made such a statement. Moreover, the claim that it is unlawful to burn the American flag, is not true. desecration of the US flag, including its burning, is protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Citizens can, however, be convicted if a stolen flag is burnt or the fire causes damage to property. More details about the same may be accessed in this Alt News article.
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