Kolkata was abuzz on Tuesday after violence was reported at BJP President Amit Shah’s rally. In the clashes that ensued, a statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalized at Vidyasagar college. As the issue gathered traction, political blame-game ensued over the matter.
While Mamata Banerjee invoked Bengali regional chauvinism, Shah in his press conference presented evidence to accuse Trinamool of violence and vandalizing the statue. AltNews claimed to do a fact-check in the matter.
In their fact-check, they initially claimed that a video showed only BJP karyakartas throwing stones at those inside the college campus, contrary to the claims made by the party that the first assault came from Trinamool. AltNews claimed that the video showed no stones being thrown from inside the college.
However, as pointed out by Fact Hunt, a fact-checking website, in reality, there are videos available which do show stones being thrown from the inside. But AltNews conveniently ignored it.
In the slowed down video stone or some object was thrown twice from the inside (8-10 sec & 19-21 sec). Man in white started seeing the object (after 8th sec) that came from inside..a man in turban threw a stone inside..at the same time an object was seen coming from inside.
— Fact Hunt (@facthunt_in) May 17, 2019
— Fact Hunt (@facthunt_in) May 17, 2019
Since then, AltNews has been forced to eat their words and they have updated their article on the matter and have admitted that there was indeed stone pelting from the inside. However, they still call it ‘retaliation’, thus, giving the impression that those were the BJP Karyakartas who pelted the stones first. They say so without any shred of evidence whatsoever.
Moreover, AltNews throughout its fact-check has built up the narrative that BJP Karyakartas were responsible for vandalizing the statue. However, all of it is mere conjecture and one ought to ask oneself, since when is conjecture considered a fact-check? AltNews says, “That the TMC vandalised Vidyasagar’s statue is a claim not backed by any visual evidence.” However, people wearing saffron appears to be sufficient condition for AltNews to brand them BJP Karyakartas. It appears it hasn’t crossed their mind that TMC cadres could very well dress up in saffron to fool people.
Anyway, since when do ‘fact-checkers’ take up the responsibility of investigative agencies and the Police? Whether people associated with the TMC vandalized the statue or it was done by BJP Karyakartas, it’s for the Police to find out. It’s not the job of fact-checkers. It appears the people at AltNews have been watching too much of CID and have been deeply inspired by ACP Pradyuman and his motley crew.
AltNews co-founders are known to harbour great hatred towards Prime Minister Modi and often peddle Fake News, as they did on this occasion, to further their personal agenda. Recently, Pratik Sinha, one of the co-founders, had lied about Narendra Modi’s poll promise of sending guilty MPs and MLAs to jail.
The media portal is a habitual offender. AltNews sought to ‘fact-check’ a ‘clipped’ video of journalist Barkha Dutt but interestingly, left out the quotes where she was actually giving a context to the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley. Altnews ‘fact-checked’ a retired major from the Army, but willy-nilly refused to respond to his side of the story. Altnews fact-checked a fake image in circulation without bothering to name the ones using that fake image. The reason was rather simple. The ones sharing that image were their ideological comrades which included Swati Chaturvedi, a source BBC has relied upon. One of their co-founders happily furthers genocidal accounts wishing for death upon anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the leftist cult. The co-founder of Altnews spread lies about ease of doing business rankings. He shared a fake image of BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa right before the Karnataka elections.