“If Pakistan can use Ballot Papers for it’s Elections, why can’t India? Using Ballot Papers instead of EVMs will help save us a lot of Electricity which gets wasted during ten hours that EVM is On.” This is the statement ascribed to Congress President Rahul Gandhi by Times How. Yes, you read that right.

Times How is a parody Twitter handle of Times Now, but surprisingly does rather well to hoodwink social media users. Sometimes, mainstream media organisations too fall prey, and in this instance it was Pakistani media which took the bait. ARY News, a Pakistani TV news station published an article carrying the quote of Rahul Gandhi. It was also published by the The News, Times of Islamabad and Instant News.

Among Indian news stations, WION which is part of the Zee network took the tweet too seriously and was among the earliest to publish an article on July 25 over the alleged quotation.

Many right-wing social media users expectedly latched on to this purported statement and ridiculed the Congress President. Among them was Mohandas Pai, former director of Infosys and a vocal supporter of PM Modi who called Gandhi a ‘juvenile’.

In February this year, Aaj Tak had broadcast an evening show debating a tweet by Times How over a fatwa against actress Priya Prakash Varrier. In another instance, Madhu Kishwar tweeted a quote ascribed to Congress leader Kapil Sibal, once again by the satire handle.

Times How replicates the logo of the channel to make it seem original. The channel’s tagline, ‘Action begins here’ has been replaced with ‘Satisfaction begins here’. These subtle variations are enough to deceive not only the non-discerning eye but many an acute observer at times.

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About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.