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How misinformation was weaponized in 2019 Lok Sabha election – A compilation
Alt News
2019-05-27
By Arjun Sidharth

As the 2019 general election draws to a close, Alt News has compiled a list of the most prominent instances of misinformation this election season. No stone was left unturned by purveyors of misinformation/disinformation, who resorted to every trick to sway the electorate ahead of voting. Readers may note that the instances listed below are in no particular order.

Misinformation via political parties and leaders
It is not uncommon to see misinformation float on social media, but when it emanates from the formal political system, it becomes an even greater cause for concern.

1. False claim by PM Modi on Congress’ 2019 challenge
In the much hyped interview given to India Today in April 2019,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that the people of the country must be made aware of one crucial fact- the Congress party is contesting the lowest number of seats ever in the history of general elections.The relevant portion can be heard from 1:03:45 in the video posted below.

Alt News found that PM Modi’s claim was factually incorrect. Congress party is contesting the election from 424 seats in this election. This is not the lowest tally ever. In 2004, the INC had fought on 417 seats. Alt News’ detailed fact-check can be read here.

2. Congress IT cell head tweets photoshopped image drawing a parallel between PM Modi and Hitler
“What are your thoughts?”, tweeted Divya Spandana, social media head of the Congress party, along with two photographs. The photograph on the left is that of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, whereas the one on the right is of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The same image had been circulated by detractors of Narendra Modi in 2018 as well. It was debunked by Alt News. A reverse image search on Google revealed that Hitler’s image used in the post is photoshopped. In the original image, he is not holding the child’s ears but resting his hands on her shoulders. An article in The Sun has published the original image which was apparently clicked to portray the Nazi leader as a “personal friend and guardian of the German youth”.

 

3. Haryana CM targets Rahul Gandhi via clipped video
On April 28, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar addressed an election rally in Ratia in the state. During his speech, the CM spoke about a purported video of Rahul Gandhi which was “too difficult to even talk about”. Khattar alleged that the Congress president “insulted the honour of our mothers and sisters”. He cited a video where he claimed Gandhi said that women in Uttar Pradesh can give birth to one child a week or 52 children a year.

The video referred to by Manohar Lal Khattar was mischievously clipped. A 7-year-old speech of Rahul Gandhi in UP’s Phulpur was lifted, clipped and circulated on social media.In the original speech, Rahul Gandhi talks about Janani Suraksha Yojna under the National Rural Health Mission, where pregnant women get an incentive of Rs 1,400 for institutional delivery. In that context, the Congress president claimed that according to an RTI response, women with the same name were getting incentives every week due to corruption in the scheme. Alt News’ fact-check can be read here.

4. Congress leader Ajay Maken targets Amit Shah with clipped video
Its very strange-BJP President Sh Amit Shah himself says that do not vote for Meenakshi Lekhi! Then why should anyone vote for Lekhi ji?

With the above message, Congress leader from Delhi Ajay Maken tweeted a video on May 2 of BJP president Amit Shah speaking at a rally. The video clip is 18 seconds long. In it, Amit Shah can be heard appealing to the audience not to vote for the two BJP candidates present on the dais- Meenakshi Lekhi and Ramesh Bidhuri.

The video clip of Amit Shah has been mischievously edited and taken out of context, to make it seem as if Shah is bizarrely appealing to the crowd to not vote for his own party candidates! The BJP president was appealing to the crowd to vote for the BJP candidates, not for the supposedly stupendous work done by the Modi govt, but on the issue of national security. One bit from this video was mischievously edited, and shared by no less than a senior leader like Ajay Maken. The tweet has still not been deleted.

5. Boxer Vijender Singh tries to ‘expose’ mohalla clinics, but reaches 40 minutes late
Celebrated boxer Vijender Singh, who recently joined the Congress party, tweeted a live video on April 24. Singh broadcast the video via his Twitter account, as he paid a visit to a mohalla clinic in Delhi. The mohalla clinic turns out to be locked, and Singh can be heard criticizing the AAP government.

The pugilist turned politician was probably unaware that the timing of the mohalla clinics is from 8 am to 2 pm. Singh reached the clinic at 2:40 pm and obviously found it locked.

6. Bengal BJP doctors video to claim Mamata Banerjee asked people to vote for BJP
“The impact of MODI TSUNAMI – Mamata Banerjee appeals everyone to vote for BJP!” – the official twitter handle of BJP Bengal declared in a tweet that the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Bannerji, appealed to vote for BJP in a rally. Accompanying the tweet was a short 18-second video in which her words – “BJP shorkar ke vote diye” – were played in a loop. The English translation of the statement is – “vote for BJP”.

It turns out that BJP Bengal had tweeted a doctored video, which was clipped and played in a loop to give a misleading impression. Mamata Banerjee addressed a rally in Khanakul, West Bengal on April 23. While ending her speech, Banerjee asked the people to vote out BJP, with a sarcastic tone to her words. Banerjee’s words “6 May aasche din, ekhane bhalo kore gonotontroye BJP Sarkar ke vote diye bhalo kore kobor din, bhalo kore kobor din, bhalo kore kobor din“, can be approximately translated as follows:

“On May 6, cast your vote for BJP government and give them a proper burial, give them a proper burial, give them a proper burial”.

The part where Banerjee says “bhalo kore kobor din“, which literally translates to “put them in the grave“, was clipped out by BJP Bengal. Instead, the part where Banerjee sarcastically says “vote for BJP” was retained and played in a loop.

7. AAP social media head tweets 2013 video to portray Congress on shaky ground in Delhi
People of Delhi have understood that @INCIndia and @SheilaDikshit are merely vote-cutters. If you dont believe it then watch this 24 second video. After today’s #AAPkaManifesto, the 2-3% people who would have voted for Congress will now not. (translation).

The above message has been tweeted by Ankit Lal, the social media in-charge of the Aam Aadmi Party, along with a short video clip showing former Delhi CM and senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit. The tweet referred to the Congress party as a vote katua, incapable of garnering the popular mandate in Delhi for the Lok Sabha election of 2019.

The video which has been posted by Lal on his Twitter account was misleading. It is not a recent news report. It is from November 2013. NDTV had reported on the turnout at the Congress party’s rally in Ambedkar Nagar, ahead of the 2013 assembly election which took place in December that year. INC was the biggest loser in the election, plunging from 43 seats to 8.

8. Paresh Rawal tweets previously debunked newspaper clipping
BJP MP and actor Paresh Rawal retweeted a purported newspaper clipping (archive) according to which an Indian politician was arrested in Boston airport for possession of drugs. The politician was a son for a former prime minister, claimed the alleged clipping dated ‘September 30, 2001’.

2,700 people are talking about this
The newspaper clipping shared by Rawal is fake and was debunked by Alt News earlier when RBI director S Gurumurthy had tweeted it. The clipping was created on a website fodey.com that gives one an option to write a story, give it a headline, name the newspaper and change the date.

9. BJP falsely claims author of TIME’s critical cover story on Modi is a Pakistani
TIME’s article on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, titled ‘India’s divider-in-chief’ was written by Aatish Taseer. The Bharatiya Janata Party, dismissing the critique, said that the article must not be given importance as it was written by a Pakistani author. This was said by BJP president Amit Shah, and reiterated by party spokesperson Dr. Sambit Patra.

The BJP’s assertion that Aatish Taseer ,the author of the piece is a Pakistani, is false. Taseer is a British national and not a Pakistani. Alt News’ article on this may be read here.

Fake newspaper clips and TV news screenshots
1. Fake newspaper clipping claims PM Modi’s family blames him for his father’s death

A clipping that had been floating on social media the last few years resurfaced this election season. It talks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and alleged incidents from his childhood. “मोदी के भाई बहन नरेंद्र मोदी को ही अपने पिताजी के मौत का जिम्मेदार मानते है  (Modi’s brothers and sister blame Narendra Modi for their father’s death),” the clipping is headlined.

It says that PM Modi’s father, Damodardas Mulchand Modi, used to make ends meet by pickpocketing and stealing coal and iron from the railway station where he worked as a tea seller. He traded the stolen items for gold, which, in turn, were stolen by Narendra Modi when he was a young boy. His father, unable to cope with his son’s actions, suffered a cardiac arrest. The family could not get back the stolen gold despite lodging an FIR and Damodardas Mulchand Modi subsequently died because his family could afford the medical expenses. The story ends by claiming that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee suppressed the case and the FIR against Narendra Modi in 1996.

The clipping was shared widely on social media and messaging platforms.

Alt News’ fact-check found that the claims made in this ‘newspaper clipping’ are ludicrous and fake. Alt News spoke to PM Modi’s family who confirmed that the contents of this write-up are false. Moreover there are spelling errors in this ‘article’, which betray its fakeness. Alt News’ fact-check can be read here.

2. Fake newspaper clip with fake quote of Mamata Banerjee
A purported newspaper clipping of popular Bengali daily বর্তমান (Bartaman) was shared on social media with its headline reading, “৪২টা আসন দিন হিন্দু কীভাবে কাঁদা তে হয় দেখিয়ে দেব: মমতা (Give me 42 seats & I’ll show you how to make the Hindus cry: Mamata)” The image had also circulated on WhatsApp.

Alt News found that the image was photoshopped. A careful glance at the clipping was sufficient to reveal that the image has been morphed. The font, size and colour of the words “হিন্দু (Hindu)” and “কাঁদা তে (cry)” do not match the words in the rest of the sentence. They are not in perfect alignment, are larger than the other words and are in a deeper shade of black. Moreover, some words were replaced from the original image.

3. Fake quote attributed to AAP leader Raghav Chadha
An alleged newspaper clipping has been shared by several individual users on social media. It is titled – “पंजाबी वोटर अगर मेरा साथ दें तो देहाती जाट गुज्जरों और बिहारियों को धूल चटा दूंगा – राघव चड्ढा| (If Punjabi voters support me, I will defeat Jats, Gujjars and Biharis – Raghav Chadha)”. The quotation was also shared on Twitter.

The clipping can be debunked using several clues. The ludicrousness of the claim itself should raise doubts. The lack of media reports on the alleged statement further espouses its falseness. Lastly, the clipping has been made to resemble a newspaper cut-out, however, a quick glance is sufficient to reveal that it is manufactured.

4. Fake, inflammatory quote attributed to Yogi Adityanath
अगर हमारी सरकार गीरी तो पुरे देश में आग लगा दूंगा – योगी आदित्यनाथ (If our govt is voted out of power then I will set the whole country on fire -translated)”, reads a statement ascribed to UP CM Yogi Adityanath in a supposed screengrab of a news channel.

Looking at the logo shown in the screengrab, Alt News found that the screengrab of the news channel belongs to a Gujarati News channel called Mantavya News. We found that the alleged screengrab of Mantavya News, which attributes an outrageous statement to the UP CM, is morphed. Alt News’ fact-check may be read here.

5. No, Smriti Irani did not say, “If PM Modi loses I will commit suicide”
A screengrab of ABP News, attributing a quote to Union Minister Smriti Irani, was shared by a Facebook page India Resists. Irani is quoted saying, “अगर प्रधानमंत्री मोदी जी हारे तो में आत्महत्या कर लुंगी (If PM Modiji loses I will commit suicide -translated)”. The viral post attempted to inject credibility to the claim by providing a corresponding screenshot of a news report purportedly telecasted by the said channel.

The screenshot is fake. Alt News contacted ABP News Senior Editor Pankaj Jha. He confirmed, “Yes it’s a morphed screenshot”. A keyword search on Google with respect to the statement ascribed to Irani yielded no results. The remotest reference to such a statement made by Irani states, “The day ‘pradhan sevak’ Narendra Modi ji decides to retire, I will also leave Indian politics”.

Photoshopped used to political effect
1. Photoshopped image of Priyanka Gandhi wearing a cross

A photograph of Priyanka Gandhi wearing a cross necklace was shared widely on social media. Several pro-BJP Facebook pages posted an image, in which two photographs of Priyanka Gandhi were juxtaposed. In the photograph on the left, Mrs. Gandhi is seen wearing a cross. It has been claimed that the picture was taken in Kerala. In the image on the right, Mrs. Gandhi is sporting a rudraksha necklace. This photo was claimed to be from Uttar Pradesh. The attempt was to highlight the supposed hypocrisy and skullduggery of Priyanka Gandhi.

The picture of Priyanka Gandhi wearing a cross, is photoshopped. Alt News had fact-checked the photograph and found that Mrs. Gandhi was actually wearing a pendant, which was replaced with a cross necklace through photoshop. The original photograph was from a rally in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

2. Photoshopped image shows Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee with Pak PM & Army Chief
An image of Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan interacting with the country’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa is being circulated on social media. Congress leaders Shatrughan Sinha and Navjot Singh Sidhu, West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee and Congress president Rahul Gandhi can also be seen in the photograph, sitting in a corner. It was circulated with the caption – “ನೀವು ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಗೆ ಮತ ಹಾಕಿದರೆ ಪಾಕಿಸ್ತಾನ ಕ್ಕೆ ಮತ ಹಾಕಿದ ಹಾಗೆ.ಚಿತ್ರ ನೋಡಿ ಪಾಕಿಸ್ತಾನ ದ ಪರ ಗುಲಾಮರು ಮೂಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಗೆ ಕುಳಿತಿದ್ದಾರೆ,” which roughly translates to, “If you vote for Congress, you will be able to vote for Pakistan. Look at the picture, how are the slaves of Pakistan sitting in the corner.”

Alt News found that the original photo, in which no Indian leader is seen, was digitally altered. The image was photoshopped by Twitter user @Atheist_Krishna who had posted it on April 5 with the caption – “बालाकोट में मारे गए आतंकवादियों के सबूत जुटाने पाकिस्तान पहुंचा विपक्ष। (Opposition reaches Pakistan to gather evidence for the death of terrorists in Balakot)” – which suggests that he took a sarcastic jibe at the opposition leaders.

3. Kanhaiya Kumar’s campaign vehicle photoshopped with image of Afzal Guru
A photograph of CPI Begusarai candidate Kanhaiya Kumar was circulated on social media with Kumar purportedly campaigning behind a poster of 2001 Parliamentary attack convict, Afzal Guru.

The image in circulation has been lifted from the CPI candidate’s election campaign rally in Begusarai. In the original photograph, Kumar is not standing behind a portrait of Afzal Guru. A video of the rally, uploaded on Youtube, shows him standing behind the symbol of Communist Party of India.

4. Photoshopped endorsement: Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone shown campaigning for BJP
A photograph of movie stars Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone was posted by a page on Facebook. The photograph showed the two sporting saffron scarves on which ‘Vote for BJP N Modi’ is printed. The text accompanying the image read, ‘कमल का बटन दबाकर देश की तरक्की में भागीदार बनें’ (Press the lotus button, become a part of the nation’s progress- translated).

As expected, the image was digitally manipulated. Alt News reverse searched the image on Google and found the real photograph, which was clicked on November 30, 2018. Singh and Padukone had visited the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, where the picture was clicked. It was carried by several media publications.

5. Digitally generated image to show sea of support at PM Modi’s Kolkata rally
“This is not sand in front of the two bald heads. it is human crowd at the BJP Kolkata rally. Yesterday was an unusual day in Kolkata. Modi ji was in town! Mamta B was not! On the vast Brigade Ground was a massive crowd of 10+ lakh Karyakartas(figure given by the Kolkata Police)”, read a messageposted along with an image purportedly of a rally that was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in Kolkata. PM Modi had visited Kolkata for an election campaign rally on April 3.

Alt News had debunked this morphed image earlier when it was shared as that of a “tsunami of supporters” in a Modi-Shah rally. Alt News was able to trace back the image to December 2017 when PM Modi and Amit Shah were sharing dais in Shimla. The event was the swearing-in ceremony of Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur.

Misreporting by mainstream media
1. “I will slap Modi” – Aaj Tak, ABP, News18 misreport Mamata Banerjee’s statement

On May 6, PM Narendra Modi targeted the TMC by terming the party ‘TTT’ or ‘Trinamool, Tolabaazi, Tax.’ The Bengali word ‘Tolabaazi’ translates extortionists. Subsequent to the PM’s statement, several mainstream media outlets reported that Mamata Banerjee’s response to his remark was – “I will slap Modi.” These included Aaj Tak, ABP News and News 18.

The West Bengal Chief Minister was misquoted in news broadcasts. She did not say, “I will slap Modi,” but stated, “I want to give PM Modi a tight slap of democracy.”  The Trinamool Congress uploaded Banerjee’s video where she can be heard saying, “নরেন্দ্র মোদী যখন বাংলায় এসে বলে মমতা ব্যানার্জী তোলাবাজ, তখন শুনলে আমার মনে হয় দি ঠাসি একটা ভালো করে গণতন্ত্রের থাপ্পড় (When Narendra Modi comes to Bengal and accuses Mamata Banerjee of being Tolabaaz, I feel like giving him a tight slap of democracy.)”

2. Republic TV falsely portrays man praising PM Modi as a Congress MLA
“कांग्रेस के विधायक अनिल उपाध्याय भी हुए पीएम मोदी के मुरीद, बंधे तारीफों के पूल (Translated: Congress MLA, Anil Upadhyay also becomes a disciple / fan of Modi, lavishes praise on him)”. The ‘Breaking News’ headlines telecast on April 27th by Republic TV’s Hello Bharat programme, carried a video of a person praising PM Modi and saying that only the corrupt want him to lose. The anchors further explained what they called the ‘big news’ saying that not only the common citizens of the country but also PM Modi’s political opponents are full of praise for him. They introduced the person as Anil Upadhyay, a Congress MLA from Madhya Pradesh.

Republic TV had clearly misreported. This is because Alt News found that there is no Congress MLA by the name of Anil Upadhyay. The person in the video was identified by The Quint as Mohan (Munna) Pandey. Several videos of Pandey have been shared by twitter user, Tanmay Shankar (@Shanktan). In all these videos, he is seen as making a very spirited and emotional case for supporting PM Modi. Speaking to The Quint, Shankar confirmed that the person is Mohan Pandey and is known to him personally.

3. ABP News anchor defends Smriti Irani over degree row with falsehood
In a debate broadcast by ABP News from Darbhanga in Bihar, the question of Smriti Irani’s degree once again come to the fore, when one person from the audience raised a question over her questionable educational qualifications. In response, the ABP News anchor moderating the debate said that Irani has a Master of Arts (MA) degree. The relevant portion of the discussion can be seen at 38:16 minutes in the video posted below.

In response to a question raised by a member of the audience, ABP News anchor Rubika Liyaquat promptly responded, saying, “MA kiya hai sir correspondence se, MA kiya hua hai, MA kiya hua hai (She has done MA through correspondence, she has done MA, she has done MA- translation).” This is not true, as Irani’s poll affidavit for 2019 clearly mentions that she had not completed her three-year degree course.

4. Unverified video of unknown persons shared as gun-toting ‘TMC goons’ from Purulia
On May 12, visuals of masked men, who were seen brandishing guns and heard speaking to a man behind the camera, were relayed by several mainstream media outlets. It was claimed that the visuals of gun-toting men were from Purulia district in West Bengal. Some of the outlets even went a step further by alleging that the men were, “TMC workers”. These included ETV Bharat and Republic TV.

Alt News could not independently verify the video or establish its origin. Suffice to say, a video sans verification was relayed by sections of mainstream media with an unsubstantiated narrative that TMC workers were threatening the voters in West Bengal. As far as the claims about TMC workers brandishing guns in Purulia is concerned, the men in the video only stated that they are going to Raghunathpur, which is in Purulia district. Neither, there is evidence to claim that they were TMC workers nor that they entered Purulia.

5. Gaffe by Rahul Gandhi? Times Now, India Today misreport
The India Today group misreported Rahul Gandhi’s poll speech at Neemuch in MP on May 14, stating that Gandhi had bungled with the names of the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states. An article published on the website was titled, ‘Rahul Gandhi mixes up names of CMs of Congress-ruled states, Twitter has field day’. Times Now too reported that the Congress president had committed a gaffe.

The fact of the matter is that Rahul Gandhi had not bungled the names of the CMs of Congress ruled states, as reported by Times Now and India Today. The basis for this claim was a clipped video. Alt News’s fact-check on this may be read here.

MISCELLANEOUS
1. False claim of buildings in Italy owned by Gandhi family

A man points at magnificent European architecture and claims that Congress president Rahul Gandhi owns the lavish property. “He has looted India and bought these buildings in Italy,” the man says in Gujarati. This video was circulated widely on social media. The over one-minute clip shows a man cautioning people against Rahul Gandhi who has bought three extravagant buildings in Italy with India’s money and gets paid in hefty rent.

The claim was not only false but ludicrous. The buildings showcased in the video are a part of a city square – Piazza Castello – in Turin, Italy. The square-shaped landmark houses museums, theatres and palaces, including the Royal Palace of Turinbuilt in the 16th century. Several of the architectural complexes are world heritage sites protected by the UNESCO. Alt News’ fact-check can be read here.

2. False claim of PM Modi abusing at a rally
“What kind of language is this Mr. PM? Does it beholds the Prime Minister of the country to use profanity and that too publicly? Shocking beyond belief !! Have some respect for the chair, if nothing else.”

The above message was tweeted by Gaurav Pandhi, along with a video which has been superimposed with the words ‘Modi said BC at a rally’. Pandhi is associated with the Congress party. The video was shared widely not only on social media platforms but also on WhatsApp, with the narrative that the Prime Minister had used profane language.

The assertion that Prime Minister Narendra Modi uttered the word ‘bh******’ at the rally, is false. PM Modi had used the words ‘thavan(i) chhe’, which PM Modi can be heard uttering the second time in the video clip, has been wrongly interpreted as ‘bh******‘. ‘Thavan(i) chhe’ roughly translates to ‘Will happen/going to happen’. The classical usage is ‘thavani chhe’, but PM Modi says ‘thavan chhe’, which is colloquial usage. Repeatedly playing the word ‘thavan(i) chhe’, as was done in the video clip, creates the illusion that PM Modi said ‘bh******’.

3. Misinformation about Congress leaders posing with the same woman
A tweet by Renuka Jain, who is followed by prime minister Narendra Modi, has gained traction not only on Twitter but also on Facebook (archive). In her tweet, Jain claimed that the Congress party had used the same elderly woman for all their photoshoots. “Congress pays her 5000 Rs. per photoshoot,” read her tweet.

The claim is false. All four women might seem alike because of their old age and white hair. A closer look, however, reveals apparent distinctions in physical features. Alt News juxtaposed photographs of the four women for a clearer view. The second woman was photographed with BJP’s K Surendran and the fourth, with Shashi Tharoor. The third elderly woman is the same who could be seen embracing Rahul Gandhi.

4. Fake: Pre-poll survey by BBC predicts thumping win for BJP in Lok Sabha 2019
According to a message which was shared widely on Facebook and WhatsApp, a pre-election survey conducted by the British global news broadcaster BBC had concluded that the ruling BJP is all set to better its 2014 performance and storm to power.

The message was a total fabrication. No such pre-election survey has been conducted by the BBC. In fact, the broadcaster does not conduct pre-election surveys at all for India. In a statement to Alt News, BBC spokesperson said, “This fake survey on the Lok Sabha polls has been circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook, with messages claiming it to be from BBC News. We’d like to make it absolutely clear that it is fake and does not come from the BBC. The BBC does not support pre-election surveys in India”.

5. Anil Upadhyay- the politician across party lines who does not exist
One name which keeps circulating on social media is Anil Upadhyay. Sometimes he is called a Congress MLA whereas at other times, he is claimed to be a BJP politician. Alt News came across several instances of misinformation wherein ‘Anil Upadhyay’ was referred to. For instance, an old video of an inter-family dispute was shared with the claim that ‘BJP MLA Anil Upadhyay’ had beaten up a Dalit youth.

It was a false claim. There is no BJP MLA by the name of Anil Upadhyay. Also, as pointed out earlier in the article, Republic TV had falsely portrayed a person praising PM Modi as ‘Congress MLA Anil Upadhyay’.

6. Old video shared with false claim of bogus voting in the garb of burqa
A video went viral on social media in April, showing a woman seizing purported fake Aadhaar cards from a group of Burqa-clad voters. It was claimed that the woman was a Muslim worker of the BJP from Muzaffarnagar, a constituency that went into polls on April 12. The video was shared in the backdrop of Muzaffarnagar BJP candidate Sanjeev Balyan’s allegations that people were casting fake votes dressed as burqa-clad women.

If one carefully listens to the video, the woman takes her name and that of her party in the first few seconds. “मैं BSPप्रत्याशी शेला हूँ ,“ she can be heard saying. Alt News found that a woman named Shaila Khan was fielded by the Bahujan Samajwadi Party in 2017 as the candidate for Rampur nagar palika chairperson. It was an old, unrelated video.

7. False claim: Pragya Thakur has been acquitted of terror charges
Quote-tweeting actor Swara Bhasker, journalist and executive editor with Network 18, Amish Devgan tweeted that terror accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur has been acquitted by the court. This was right after Thakur’s nomination from Bhopal on a BJP ticket had sparked a furore.

Latest addition to our scintillating list of MP contestants: a potential terrorist.. Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya.. BJP absolutely naked in its agenda of hate and divisiveness.. https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1118410773544325120 …

Several pro-BJP social media users had ecohed this claim, which is NOT true. Pragya Thakur has not been acquitted by the court. The trial of Sadhvi Pragya and others, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, is still underway. Pragya has been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In December 2017, a special NIA court had ruled that Sadhvi Pragya, Lt. Col Prashant Purohit and six others be charged under the UAPA.

Key takeaways

  1. The cycle of misinformation, as expected, was largely determined on the basis of the different phases of the election. Whichever state was scheduled to conduct polling was targeted on the eve of the election.
  2. Misinformation/disinformation was myriad in nature- clipped videos, photoshopped images, fake newspaper cutouts, false quotations, use of old and unrelated pictures and/or videos, to cite a few.
  3. West Bengal was a prime target of misinformation/disinformation. Alt News found that the maximum number of instances of falsehood pertained to this state. Moreover, the nature of misinformation was communal and inflammatory.
  4. Sections of mainstream media too succumbed to the scourge of misinformation. The reportage in such instances was heavily lopsided.

It may not be an exaggeration to state that misinformation/disinformation has characterized the 2019 general election in large measure, with no segment left untouched.



Original Contents by Alt News


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