Prashant Bhushan shares unverified image with wrong information to score a political point

Politician and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who used to be part of the AAP before Arvind Kejriwal removed him from the party, today posted a sensational “news report”, which appeared to be printed on the front page of some newspaper.

Using the picture of that article, Prashant Bhushan then attacked Modi and his “Bhakts” for being selective in their approach:

Bhushan made the above claim based on an article from a certain “Dainik Ujala” newspaper. The headline meant “the biggest scam in the country” and claimed that Reliance Jio had betrayed India by buying 30 crore phones from China. It also accused Reliance Jio of committing tax fraud, though did not explain the rationale.

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The content, in Hindi, did not read like a proper news report and more like a WhatsApp forward created by a political party. It claimed that Jio had ordered the cheap phones from China, even though there is a ‘Make In India’ program in prevalence.

The ‘report’ further claimed that Jio did so even after knowing that had it made the handsets in India, lakhs of unemployed people could have got work. It then stated that at a time when the Indian army is ready to give a befitting reply to the enemy (China), our company was giving a Rs 45,000 crore business to China. It then claimed that such phone were a security concern for India and also put a comparative analysis about India’s losses and China’s gains due to Jio’s move.

The so-called newspaper report however is not factually correct. It should be noted that the Jio phones are not being manufactured in China. They are being manufactured in Taiwan, which incidentally has a long standing conflict with China. So if at all Jio is funding someone, its funding China’s enemies.

It can be argued that Reliance could indeed have done better by manufacturing in India, but a private company can not be forced to take business decisions. Nonetheless, the rhetoric vis a vis China is factually wrong.

Apart from that, the newspaper that is supposed to have published this ‘report’ shared by Bhushan appears non-existent or fictitious. Details about any newspaper called “Dainik Ujala” are sketchy. This supposed newspaper hardly has any information about it available online. Even its website (www.dainikujaala.com — as mentioned in the image shared by Bhushan) doesn’t exist. In fact, the domain was available for sale when we checked:

Prashant Bhushan shares fake image
Domain search undertaken at 5.00 PM IST on 24th August 2017

Assuming that a newspaper got its own website URL wrong, we found that the closest matching URL is danikujala.com, which hosts a ‘web news channel’ (as per its own definition) but it neither has a print version nor has its website got that particular Jio report online.

So not only did Prashant Bhushan share a ‘news report’ that made wrong claims, the newspaper which carried it too appears to be fake. A lawyer of Supreme Court is expected to have this much of awareness and common sense to ascertain if a piece of information he is sharing is reliable and authentic. Is this the kind of ‘proof’ he relies upon when fighting cases?

It also remains to be seen if Reliance Jio takes some action against him for spreading information, which might even be considered slanderous.

Prashant Bhushan is somewhat of a habitual offender when it comes to creating controversy on Social Media. A couple of months back, he had blamed the “culture of Hindutva” and anti-romeo squads for a gruesome molestation case, even though it was well established that the crime was committed by Muslim youths.

Bhushan has also gone to great lengths to somehow link Narendra Modi with a ‘scam’, especially involving big corporate houses. He had famously spearheaded the whole case about Modi allegedly taking bribes from Sahara and Birla, but the ‘proof’ he submitted were thrown out by the Supreme Court, with apex court nothing that anyone could create such proofs. Perhaps just like anyone can create such newspaper clippings.

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