With the country trying to battle the Coronavirus pandemic, especially, the exponential spike in cases after the Tablighi Jamaat members infecting thousands, hiding in mosques, refusing cooperation and misbehaving with medical personnel, the conduct of sections of the Muslim community has been under the scanner throughout the country. In several cases, videos have emerged where members from the Muslim community can be seen contaminating the fruits they are selling, throwing current notes for others to pick up and even spitting on medical personnel. With such videos and news articles emerging, the ecosystem that functions on peddling Muslim-victimhood has been on an overdrive to shield the community from any criticism or questioning. One such portal is AltNews and it has been working exceptionally hard to spread fake news, under the garb of fact-check, trying to mislead people and shield the Muslim community.
Recently, a video went viral where a Muslim man was seen throwing a currency note, almost deliberately, inside the petrol pump premises. The video was shared by ABP journalist, TV9 Gujarati and several people on social media.
In the video, it could be seen that from his left hand, the Muslim man hands over the money he owned to the attendant and then, with the right hand, he dropped a currency note before mounting his scooter and driving away.
The video, as suspected, created quite the furore among people. At a time when social distancing is the norm, any attempt to deliberately put other people in harm’s way would illicit a similar response.
However, since the individual seen in the video was a Muslim, AltNews published a shoddy ‘fact-check’ that simply included senseless conjectures to prove that not only was the Muslim man in the video innocent, but also the victim himself.
The AltNews story essentially said that the man in question has partial paralysis in his right hand and hence, he dropped the currency note by accident. It cites police personnel and the man in question himself, who is identified by them as one Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh, a resident of Valsad.
There are, of course, several loopholes in AltNews’ alleged ‘fact-check’ that tries to exonerate the Shaikh, who is seen in the viral video.
Here are some obvious question that should have been asked by AltNews, but they weren’t because they were far more interested in peddling an agenda.
Partial paralysis – could not handle a currency note but could ride the scooter?
The AltNews’ fact-check makes one key assertion that they use to exonerate Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh. They say that Shaikh has partial paralysis in his right hand, and hence, could not effectively handle the currency note that then accidentally fell on the ground. It cites a police officer who said that “during questioning” they found that his hand was paralysed and thus, the note fell out accidentally. Then, AltNews cites Shaikh himself who says, “I had left in the morning to travel to Dabhel and stopped at a gas station en route to fill petrol. Since I was riding on the highway I was wearing spectacles and a mask. I met with an accident in 2009 and since then, I am unable to hold things in my right hand. There is movement in the hand but I cannot use it effectively. I didn’t even realise when the notes fell out of my hand.”
There is one key problem here, however.
The distance from Valsad to Dabhel is about 30 KMs according to Google. That is an approximately 40 minute drive during lockdown since there would hardly be any traffic. A man who claims to have partial paralysis to a point that he could not handle a currency note and did not even notice when it fell, could drive a scooter for over 30 KMs. That assertion in itself sounds rather outlandish.
Further, as astutely pointed out by one Twitter user, the Accelerator on a scooter is on the right side. A man who is supposedly partially paralysed in his right hand would not be able to then handle the accelerator for which he would have to use his right hand only.
Accelerator on 2-wheelers is on the right “ side. According to fact fakers @free_thinker @AltNews, the man has partial paralysis, his right hand is incapacitated, hence he dropped the currency note. Then how did he operate the accelerator of his scooter with the same right hand??— Strategic Spaminder Bharti (@attomeybharti) April 27, 2020
Further, if one looks at the video, after dropping the currency note, the man with much ease grips the right handle of the scooter, the very hand that is allegedly paralysed to a level where it is incapable of handling a currency note.
There were several other loopholes noticed by Netizens too.
3. The guy saw the note when he dropped it.— Robinhood Pandey (@roflbaba) April 27, 2020
4. The note fell right before his feet where it must’ve been clearly visible to him.
5. You’re declaring him innocent because he said so citing he’s partial paralysis WHICH doesn’t mean he didn’t do it intentionally to spread panic.
The assertions seem rather outlandish given that his hand seems completely functional in the video.
Police did not declare him innocent
The AltNews report cites the police officer in a bid to declare Shaikh innocent. However, it is pertinent to note that the police officer simply repeated what Shaikh had told him under interrogation and in no way, at least as cited by AltNews, does he say that the man did not have any intention to create panic as far as Coronavirus was concerned.
Following is the statement of the police officer.
“After watching the CCTV footage, the owner of the petrol pump contacted the police. We brought in the man seen in the clip for questioning. His name is Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh, a resident of Valsad. During the questioning, we found that his right hand is paralysed after he had met with an accident. His right-hand does not function properly which is why the notes fell out of his hand. A complaint has been filed against him for travelling from Valsad to Navsari during the lockdown.”
It is evident that the police simply regurgitated whatever Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh asserted to them. That is also evident since similar statement was given to AltNews by Shaikh. However, there is no statement from the police as far as his intent goes.
Why has Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh been “advised home quarantine”
The AltNews report says, “Brahmabatt was further asked if Ilyas is coronavirus positive or has symptoms for the disease. “We took him for a medical examination and found that he does not have symptoms. He has been advised home-quarantine,” the inspector replied”.
The obvious question that should have been asked by AltNews is why Shaikh was advised home quarantine to begin with. This question, however, is not answered by AltNews and the statement is added simply to ensure that no question are raised.
Strange explanation for how the currency note got “stuck” in his right hand
The strange explanation offered by AltNews is almost laughable. AltNews says that he took money out of his pocket using his left hand and then, held the money with both his hands. In the process, one note got “stuck” in the fingers of his right hand and since he is partially paralysed, he did not even “notice” that the note was there. Interestingly, the entire report has no mention of whether this accident affected his eye-sight as well and hence, the explanation that he did not even see the note being “stuck” is rather amusing. Also, the report mentions ‘Partial paralysis’. The sequence of events that are described by AltNews would need a man to be fully paralysed and partially blind for it to be plausible.
After these obvious question were left unanswered, AltNews published the blatant lies of Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh as the ‘gospel’ truth.
OpIndia also got in touch with inspector P P Brahmabatt of Navsari police and one quick conversation revealed the selective reportage and blatant lies being peddled by AltNews and Shaikh.
Fact-checking AltNews fact-check: The right hand of Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh is NOT completely paralysed, police confirms
When OpIndia reached out to inspector PP Brahmabatt of Navsari police, he confirmed that they did get to know later that the accused met with an accident, however, it cannot be said that his handi is “paralysed”. Inspector Brahmabatt confirmed that in his right hand, 3 fingers don’t work properly due to the accident but 2 fingers of Shaikh work perfectly fine. Interestingly, this detail was carefully hidden by AltNews to create the impression that his right hand was paralysed and thus, he could not have possibly known that the note “accidentally” fell out of his right hand.
If Shaikh’s two fingers are working perfectly fine, it defies logic to assert that he had no idea that the note fell out of his hand. This would also explain the obvious discrepancy as to how a man with a “paralysed right hand” could right a scooter that has the accelerator on the right side as well.
Fact-checking AltNews fact-check: Here is why Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh has been quarantined – something AltNews missed out and Shaikh blatantly lied about
AltNews in its report simply mentions that Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh has been “advised home quarantine”. Further in the report, they also say that Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh could not have possibly done this deliberately since the has no symptoms of Coronavirus and thus, without having Coronavirus he couldn’t spread the infection “deliberately”.
AltNews also peddles the blatant lies by Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh.
The statement by Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh makes two important assertions. One that the police “accepted” the explanation that he did it by mistake and Two, that he is now staying home “was advised by the doctor” because of the pain in his back.
When OpIndia spoke to the inspector in question, he said that Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh has been asked to stay in Home Quarantine because his sample has been sent for testing. When asked why he was kept in-home quarantine and was there any suspicion of him being Coronavirus positive, the inspector said that there are many such videos doing the rounds that show Coronavirus positive patients spitting on currency notes and then throwing them to infect others, and hence, he has been asked to stay at home till his Coronavirus results are known.
Fact-checking AltNews fact-check: Only court will decide if he is innocent or guilty, says police
The police officer in question was asked about his views on whether Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh is guilty or innocent, considering the article by AltNews regurgitates Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh’s statement that the police “accepted” that he had dropped the currency note by mistake. To this, the police officer said that an FIR has been filed against him under the Disaster Act and now, only the Court can decide whether he is guilty or innocent. The officer could not immediately confirm the charges levied since he said the FIR was not in front of him but did say that the usual charges under Disaster Act have been applied.
Thus, not only does Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh seems to be lying, but AltNews seems to have selectively quoted the police officer or asked him questions that only led to the selective truth, so as to exonerate Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh prematurely, simply because he is a Muslim. The fact that two of his fingers work just fine, that he was booked under the ‘Disaster Act’, and that he has been advised home quarantine till his Coronavirus test results come back are facts that were all missed, conveniently so, by AltNews in their desperation to declare Shaikh innocent.