“A BJP worker has been caught transporting 120 crore rupees worth of black money at Tippanahalli in Karnataka. He confessed that this money was to be used in the upcoming assembly election in Karnataka. It seems like all the 2000 rupee notes that have vanished from ATMs are with the BJP”. Along with this message, a set of photographs have been posted by the Facebook page I.T Cell MPCC which is a fan page of the Congress party, on April 22. Although the page has a modest following of about 20,000, this message has been shared more than 32000 times at the time of writing.
तिप्पनाहल्ली (कर्नाटक) में 120 करोड़ रुपयों का काला धन ले जाते हुए एक भाजपा कार्यकर्ता पकड़ा गया…!!
उसने बताया कि ये…
These photographs are viral on Twitter as well. The tweet below illustrates how the same photographs have been used in the opposite context by right-wing supporters.
Wondering where all the cash from ATM went away?? Look at 120crores cash caught at Chikkaballapur check post in Karnataka..cash being pumped in from Andhra for Karnataka elections! It’s easy to guess who is behind this!#CashCrunchOrNot pic.twitter.com/8qffy62cb1
— रवि गुमाटी (@RaviVyom) April 17, 2018
In either case, the implication is that the other party is corrupt to the core and is resorting to money power to win elections. The recent currency crunch in ATMs has added yet another dimension to these claims and counter-claims with these photographs providing justification for the general shortage of cash.
What is the truth?
Alt News used the Google Reverse Image search function and found that photographs representing two different events have been clubbed together, and these photographs have been circulated earlier as well on social media. For example, one of the photographs had been uploaded earlier with the claim that these currency notes had been found when the house of Sashikala was raided.
Chennai Sasikala house tunnel 🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/zhonUo6Ew2
— Harsha.. (@Harsha_Rihu) November 24, 2017
These photographs of currency notes that have been used in the most recent posts and claimed to be from Karnataka were actually taken when Income Tax officials had conducted a raid on an NSE broker in Delhi in November 2017. This misinformation about the money being recovered from Sasikala’s house was countered by The Quint in an article.
As for the image of the two policemen with the policemen and a man in a purple shirt, Alt News found an article of April 18, 2018 which was published in the Tamil version of The Hindu. According to this article, a private bus smuggling currency notes worth 120 crore from Andhra Pradesh to Karnataka was intercepted by the police.
An approximate translation of the article is pasted below.
A private bus enroute from Anantapur, Andhra s to Bangalore was searched in Karnataka Border by Karnataka state police and Rs. 120 crore was found. The police is investigating if this money is going to be used for distribution in lieu of the upcoming elections in Karnataka.
A private bus belonging to Sree Venkateswara Bus Travels was transporting passengers from Anantpur to Bangalore. Police were searching vehicles in Chikballapur district, Dippahanihalli and searched this private bus also. Under one of the seats 2 cardboard boxes and a cloth bag was found with Rs. 2000 and Rs. 500 notes stacked inside it under a few sarees.
Police counted the money at the same spot and recovered Rs. 120 crores, however they couldn’t find who had brought these boxes, hence they confiscated the money and a case has been registered and investigations are on. Police are suspecting that this money might be distributed to people in view of the upcoming State Assembly Elections in Karnataka.
The article thus mentions that since the police could not determine who brought these boxes, a case was registered and investigation is still on. There is no evidence yet of the involvement of political parties, although the police suspect that this money might be used for the assembly polls.
In this instance, two sets of photographs from two different periods and contexts were put together with a baseless claim. This mischief was perpetuated by supporters of both political parties who presented different narratives, pinning the blame on the other. In the process, social media users have ended up at the receiving end of misinformation.
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