Fact check: Did BJP President Amit Shah and PM Modi call Baniyas cheaters and accuse them of profiteering?

Using Photoshopped images of newspaper clippings and screenshots of news frames is the new way of spreading fake news.

An image which looks like a cutting from a newspaper has gone viral on social media. The headline screams “Chori aur munafakhori is desh ke baniyon ki aadat hai: Amit Shah“. It claims that BJP President Amit Shah made a casteist comment on the Baniya community, accusing them of being habitual cheaters and profiteering.

WhatsApp message in circulation claiming Amit Shah made a casteist comment on the Baniyas.

A message accompanying it accuses the BJP of getting rid of Baniyas from Delhi’s voter list. Referring to the ‘news clipping’ the BJP President is accused of insulting the Baniyas. “Banias will give a slap to these sanghis in 2019,” the message says.

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Many people even shared the same on social media.

The clipping which does not show which newspaper it belongs to, has no identifiable marks on it. The ‘article’ claims that while addressing a rally in Bundi, Rajasthan, ahead of Assembly elections, Shah accused the Baniya community of being habitual cheaters. “They (Baniyas) cheat on taxes and have also led to the deteriorated state of the farmers because of their profiteering,” the ‘article’ claims. The ‘article’ then repeats the above claims again in different words, keeping the same attacking tone on Baniyas.

The inset paragraph in the article also claims that Modi had called the trader community ‘cheaters’ and compared them to thieves during demonetisation.

Amusingly, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party head Arvind Kejriwal had played the same ‘Baniya’ card when he wanted to claim that the ‘Baniyas’ are upset with the BJP because of GST implementation and hence the BJP has removed their names from the electoral rolls. Kejriwal

However, the above news is fake. Shah, who himself belongs to the Baniya community, did not say this in his speech at Bundi, Rajasthan.

To further verify the claims, we search the exact phrase on Google, but it threw up no result which could back the above ‘article’.

Google search results for the casteist comment credited to BJP President Amit Shah

Using Photoshopped news clipping frames is the new way of spreading fake news propaganda. Recently, a casteist statement attributed to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was in circulation ahead of Jasdan by-elections.

Earlier, expelled Aam Aadmi Party leader and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan has also spread unverified image with wrong information to score a political point. In another instance, Bhushan and Congress leaders including their IT cell head had resorted to sharing a link of a dubious soft-porn website to prove Rafale is a ‘scam’. That is not all, yesterday, journalist and filmmaker Pritish Nandy used an example of fake news to actually spread fake news and has since been brazening it out on Twitter.


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