Far-Left propagandist masquerading as fact-checkers, AltNews, has fallen into a habit of defending the indefensible and spreading fake news in the process. Or perhaps, it was always so. When things are really really indefensible, they attempt to muddy the waters and cast aspersions or misleading conclusions about the content of the claim being made. The same happened when BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia posted a video of Muslims gathering at a Mosque.
यह जाहिलियत नहीं तो और क्या है? देश के कानून से ऊपर हैं यह क्या?— Gaurav Bhatia गौरव भाटिया 🇮🇳 (@gauravbh) April 29, 2020
आलोचना करो तो कहते हैं कि हमारे धर्म को निशाना बनाया जा रहा है
खतरे में आप नहीं हैं आप की वजह से यह देश है
देखते हैं कितने लोग इनके समुदाय से निकल कर आते हैं?
जिसको बुरा लगता है लगे, गलत है तो गलत है#COVIDIOTS pic.twitter.com/Kvzy3dbSSh
Gaurav Bhatia said while sharing the video, “What is this if not Jahiliyat? Are [these people] above the laws of the land? If you criticize [them], [they] say their religion is being [unfairly] targeted. You are not in danger, the country is because of you. Let us see how many people come forward from their community [to condemn them]. If people feel bad, let them, what is wrong is wrong.” Quite clearly, the spokesperson of the BJP was referring to the manner in which certain Muslims continue to gather at Mosques around the country defying lockdown norms and thus, risking the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus.
At this, co-founder of AltNews Zubair jumped in and linked an AltNews “fact-check” about the video. The propagandist told Gaurav Bhatia, “What was the compulsion that you have to share a video that is from a day before the lockdown? Did you receive orders from the IT Cell?” Then, he proceeded to link the AltNews ‘fact-check’. As it turns out, however, it does not disprove a word of what the BJP spokesperson said.
हेलो @gauravbh, ऐसी क्या मजबूरी आ पड़ी जो लॉक डाउन से एक दिन पेबल ( मार्च 23rd ) डोंगरी, मुम्बई का वीडियो अभी शेयर करना पड़ रहा है?— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) April 29, 2020
IT सेल से हिदायत मिली थी क्या? 😏@AltNews फैक्ट चेक : https://t.co/EZvKZVbTRE
The ‘fact check’ shared by AltNews co-founder Zubair says that the video was recorded outside a Mosque in Maharashtra, the worst affected state by the pandemic. As per the AltNews report itself, Mumbai Mirror had reported on the 23rd of March that “Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday imposed a curfew across the state as people continued to defy the provisions under section 144 after strictly following a janata curfew on Sunday.” Furthermore, again by the admission of AltNews itself, PTI had reported that the “Police on Monday registered an FIR against the trustees of a masjid where up to 150 people were found offering namaz in violation of government orders issued to check the spread of the coronavirus.” Thus, quite clearly, those who had gathered at the Mosque were defying the orders issued to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Gaurav Bhatia, in his tweet, did not mention the date and time of the gathering but only used it as an example to make a larger point. And that point still stands. It is an indisputable fact that the gathering captured in the video was in defiance of orders issue to combat the Wuhan Coronavirus which jeopardised the health of the community. As a potential consequence of the event, the virus could have further spread among the populace, causing much devastation in Maharashtra. Also, it was not a one-off event and instances such as these have been happening at an unfortunate pace.
Other incidents of lockdown violations
Earlier this week, around forty Muslims had gathered at a Mosque in Aurangabad even as the coronavirus continues to ravage through the state. When the Police reached the spot, they were attacked by the mob and even women participated in it. Three policemen were injured as a consequence. Policemen were also attacked in Howrah, West Bengal on Tuesday after they entered the area to enforce the lockdown in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. It is one of the worst affected areas of West Bengal, second only to Kolkata. An attack was launched on policemen at Gomtipur in Ahmedabad when they went to search for members of the Tablighi Jamaat. Stones were pelted at the policemen one cop was injured. Two were detained over the matter.
What Really Happened Between Gaurav Bhatia and AltNews co-founder Zubair
Thus, Gaurav Bhatia was using the incident in Mumbai from a month as an example to point towards a larger issue. There is no indication from his tweet that he meant anything otherwise or that he intended to convey that the gathering was at an alternate location or time. Zubair, nonetheless, gave the impression that it was a misleading comment, insinuating that it had been made under pressure from the IT Cell of the BJP. In doing so, he was also trying to whitewash the gross lockdown violatiosn certain sections of the Muslim community have been indulging in. In reality, the AltNews report itself only further affirms the point the BJP spokesperson was trying to make.