In April last year, AAP supporting news blog Janta Ka Reporter (JKR) had led the entire Indian media on a wild goose chase. Based on a tweet, which was itself based on a whatsapp forward, JKR broke an “exclusive” story, without any cross verification of facts, that Aamir Khan had adopted 2 drought hit villages in India. Indian media picked up this news and relayed it all over, only to be told later, that Aamir Khan had done no such thing.
Come 2017, JKR has done this all over again, and soon enough all of Indian media may pick-up this story. JKR today claimed that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was seen “visibly dozing off” during the Republic Day parade in Delhi. The story was based on the following picture circulating on the social media:
One of the first people to share this picture was an AAP supporting Twitter user:
— Jitender Singh (@jitenderkhalsa) January 26, 2017
This tweet was then shared by AAP leaning journalist Ashutosh Mishra and other usual suspects. Soon JKR also picked up this image and concluded that the Defence Minister was “visibly dozing off”.
Eventually, JKR’s story reached the esteemed forums of Pakistani websites.
Thankfully for us, and unfortunately for JKR, in their article, they mentioned that this “dozing off” was seen on TV just when Lakshadweep’s tableau was passing by the dignitaries. This allowed us to dig into the source of the information.
One look at the video from this period and one can clearly see that just seconds before Parrikar lowered his gaze, he was awake and watching the parade:
He was looking at the parade and then in sudden movement lowered his gaze and appeared to close his eyes, after which the video cuts back to the parade. From a video of less than 5 seconds, where Parrikar can be seen with his eyes open as well as closed, it is actually impossible to say conclusively that he had fallen asleep. The sudden, deliberate movement of his head though would suggest he wasn’t asleep.
For those who can not see the High Definition video, here are the frames from seconds before he closed his eyes:
This is reminiscent of the time when in 2015 it was claimed that PM Modi was caught sleeping in the Parliament, based on a single screen-grab, whereas the full video showed he wasn’t asleep. In 2016, Rahul Gandhi too was similarly “caught sleeping” in the parliament. In Rahul’s case though the allegation was not based on a single image but based on a video in which he was seen with his eyes closed. The video too couldn’t be called conclusive evidence, but Congress spokespersons made a hash of defending him.
It is odd that in the day and age of social media, media houses still try to conjure news items based on a single image.