Propaganda website AltNews has been largely peddled as an authentic source of fact-checks by the entire Left cabal. Their articles are peddled by any anti-government, anti-Hindu riffraff that the ecosystem has to offer and they often claim that their method is rather elaborate and authentic. With patrons like Arundhati Roy, who regularly speaks in a language that can only be called one that resonates with Naxals and every element that wishes to tear India apart, AltNews has gained a reputation amongst right-thinking individuals as a mouthpiece of Islamists. The so-called fact-checking website regularly furthers fake news, obfuscates the truth, concocts details to shield Islamists and sometimes, even creates fake news simply to fact check it later.
In their quest to exonerate perpetrators from the Muslim community, AltNews has employed several methods over the years. Their methods, have now almost become predictable and standardised. While subtly peddling Islamic propaganda, AltNews keeps up the veneer of fact-checking to make their propaganda far more palatable to their already gullible readers, and that, they have the help of the entire ecosystem for their nefarious plans certainly helps move things along.
In this article, we aim to analyse the methods used by AltNews to exonerate perpetrators who happen to belong to the Muslim community and spread the Islamist agenda simultaneously, all the while, hiding behind the veil of fact-checking.
Method #1: Downright lies
While AltNews claims to ‘fact-check’, the portal has often peddled downright lies to shield Islamists and perpetrators who are Muslims. While a ‘fact-checking’ website would at least be expected to further facts, even if they have an ideological leaning, AltNews misses terribly on that mark.
Not too long ago, a Twitter handle had appeared that alleged the scarcity of PPE kits and masks in a Haryana hospital. After the tweet was peddled by Pratik Sinha and several others like Shekhar Gupta, the tweet was deleted. However, there was another catch that any ‘fact-checker’ would have figured out if he wasn’t driven by agenda. Essentially, a Twitter account changes gender in the name, uploads an image most possibly taken off the Internet and shares a heartbreaking story of doctors who are struggling without masks as they fight coronavirus and ‘fact-checkers’ without verifying facts amplify the story. Editors Guild of India boss, too, spreads the misinformation to millions. This when the nation is fighting a major pandemic and it is a moral responsibility of every citizen to stay away from rumours and unverified information. However, for the ones with motives, such temptations are hard to resist especially when the false information makes Prime Minister Modi and India look underprepared.
Earlier in 2017, one of the cofounders of the ‘factchecking’ website which used to run a parody page on Facebook called ‘Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy’ shared an old photo to claim that Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yedyurappa used to celebrate ‘Tipu Jayanti’ earlier. The claim was revealed to be completely bogus as he was not even a member of the BJP when the photo was apparently captured and it was during his attempt to create a separate party on his own. The photo was captured at the minority convention of the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP).
On another occasion, Zubair, a cofounder of AltNews, shared a cropped video claiming that some members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) of Gonda, Uttar Pradesh had raised some anti-national slogans during a protest rally against Pakistan in the wake of Pulwama terror attack by Islamic terrorists. He urged his followers to retweet the same ‘cropped’ video so that fake propaganda can be shared across the platform to incite communal disharmony. However, the Gonda police soon issued a statement rejecting the claims of Zubair. They clarified that there were no such ‘anti-India’ slogans which were raised at the protests. The Gonda Police in its statements said the videos pertaining to the VHP protest march is being used for ‘corrupt’ purposes and stated that no such slogans were raised during the event.
In 2018, a video had surfaced which showed certain individuals raising pro-Pakistan slogans. AltNews immediately jumped to the occasion and raised questions regarding its authenticity in its factcheck to claim that it raised ‘suspicion’. However, the Bihar DGP KS Diwedi confirmed that the video which was shot in Araria was real and it was not doctored. Two men named Sultan Aazmi and Shehjad were arrested as well in connection with the incident.
Method #2: Deliberate Attempts at Misleading
There have been numerous occasions on which AltNews has deliberately misled its audience on the actual facts of the matter. One prominent instance was the Kathua Rape Case where the son of the main accused, Vishal Jangotra, was acquitted by the Court. In May 2018, In May 2018, OpIndia had reported how fresh details revealed that Jangotra was actually present in Muzaffarnagar on the day and at a time when the police charge sheet accuses him to be present in Kathua. However, AltNews had cast aspersions on OpIndia insinuating that we were defending the rapist of a minor child.
Another such instance was the vandalism involving the statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in Kolkata during the Lok Sabha Elections. There was no evidence as such that it was carried out by anyone associated with the BJP but AltNews portrayed it as such. Furthermore, the ‘factcheckers’ also claimed that there was no stonepelting from inside the Vidyasagar College, when in fact there was, and later when they were forced to correct their mistake, they claimed it was ‘retaliation’ without any evidence that the stonepelting was initiated by those on the outside. Without a shred of evidence, they had pronounced saffron organisations guilty for the vandalism. The investigative authorities hasn’t yet found out who vandalised the statue. Perhaps, they could have employed Altnews to solve the case, the ‘factcheckers’ who found the accused within hours of the incident.
More recently, BJP Spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia had shared a video of Muslims violating social distancing norms by gathering in large numbers at a Mosque. He had slammed those who try to absolve the miscreants among the community of all their sins and slammed those who twist it to be an attack on their faith. Zubair immediately replied to the remarks on Twitter by sharing a ‘factcheck’ of the video and insinuated that Gaurav Bhatia had shared it under pressure from the ‘IT Cell’. In reality, the ‘factcheck’ by Altnews only confirmed the message the BJP spokesperson was trying to convey. The video was from Maharashtra on the 23rd of March, a day after the Janata Curfew, when section 144 was in force. An FIR was registered regarding the event against the concerned individuals for the same.
In April, Mohammed Zubair wrote on Twitter, “Leading by example, Surat Dy Mayor Nirav Shah shares a video of him attending a ‘religious ceremony’ presided by Jain Monks.” The caption was accompanied by a video wherein the Surat Mayor could be seen prostrating in front of a Jain monk. In reality, it was a gathering for relief work and in the said clip shared by Zubair, the people were only engaging in ritualistic obeisance as is the norm within the Jain community.
Method #3: Whitewash Deplorable Crimes
AltNews, over time, has developed a unique habit of unapologetically whitewashing the most rabid crimes committed by Radical Muslims. During the Delhi anti-Hindu riots, the ‘factcheckers’ launched a staunch defence of Tahir Hussain, the AAP Councillor, who played a prominent part in the violence in North East Delhi and is an accused in the murder case of Ankit Sharma. They had given a clean chit to the AAP leader based on a shoddily edited video that showed Tahir Hussain seeking help. AltNews claimed that they could find no evidence of the video being edited, however, social media users pointed out the glaring plot-holes in the fairy-tale. They absolved the AAP Councillor entirely on the basis of dubious sources and a video that could have easily been manipulated.
In the aftermath of the crackdown on the Jamia Milia Islamia University during the violent anti-CAA riots, when the Police was forced to enter the campus in order to flush out goons, AltNews published a ‘factcheck’ to absolve Jamia students of their sins even when it was evident that they were not entirely innocent. They claimed that in one of the videos, what was previously believed to be a stone was actually a wallet. In doing so, they ignored the other videos where students of the University are clearly visible carrying stones in their hands.
AltNews has discovered another novel way of ‘factchecking’, hitherto unknown to mankind. They use quotes from an individual who is accused of guilt and then treat it as gospel truth in order to declare them innocent. It is a malicious way of whitewashing crimes as an individual will obviously never admit to his guilt unless forced to do so. In one such instance, AltNews whitewashed the crimes of a man who was advised home quarantine after videos surfaced where it could be seen that he had deliberately dropped currency note. In the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus, instances have emerged where certain individuals have shows a predisposition towards spreading the infection through currency notes. The individual was identified as one Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh, a resident of Valsad.
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.” On the basis of this comment, AltNews had declared him a victim of a targeted campaign even though it was evident from the video that he was not speaking the truth. They also cited a police officer to declare him innocent even though the said officer had made no comment to that effect. The lies of Shaikh were also peddled in ample amount in the name of ‘factcheck’.
In a similar case, a Muslim fruit vendor in Raisen, Madhya Pradesh was seen smearing the fruits he intended to sell with his saliva in a video from February. Following the incident, an FIR was registered against Sheru Miyan under relevant sections. AltNews claimed that since the video was from February, there was no risk of spreading the Wuhan Coronavirus even though the virus has been in the news since a long time before that. They also claimed that the actions were merely ‘gross’ when such acts can actively lead to the spread of diseases. AltNews again relied on the claims made by the daughter of the person to portray his actions as that of a mentally unwell individual, which may very well be true, but only casts further aspersions on the negligence of the family. AltNews, however, saw nothing wrong with that and proceeded to declare the man an innocent victim of a targeted campaign.
Method #4: Doxxing Individuals on Social Media
There have been multiple occasions on which AltNews has doxxed individuals in the past and invariably, the individuals concerned always fell on one side of the political spectrum. It was done knowing fully well that the doxxing will put the person’s life at risk from Islamists. In January 2019, Pratik Sinha, the founder of AltNews, created quite the storm when doxxed unsuspecting users on Twitter. Doxxing implies publishing private information about an individual on social media or identifying information about an individual with malicious intent. Subsequently, the twitter user @SquintNeon, received a barrage of hate and threats from Jihadists, warning him of dire consequences. It was believed that a thread by the user exposing Islamists hd prompted the said the people associated with AltNews to doxx him.
During the same saga, Pratik Sinha had also doxxed numerous other individuals which made them fear for their lives. In the said process, even women were not spared and subjected to doxxing as well. The said individuals revealed that they were receiving threats due to the doxxing efforts of Pratik Sinha. And it is with good reason that the individuals were scared. We have already seen what has happened to Kamlesh Tiwari and the manner in which he was brutally murdered by Islamists.
Thus, the doxxing is part of a clear and coordinated attempt to silence the critics of Radical Islam and their followers. The objective is to expose them to Radical Jihadists on social media who then flood the said individuals with hate and threats, with the very real possibility that they will actually carry them out. Under such circumstances, it is natural for individuals to fear for their lives and exercise in self-censorship, which is the ultimate objective of AltNews, that is, to prevent criticism of Radical Islam and its followers.
Method #5: Collaboration with global Leftwing actors
When AltNews is not busy lying, misleading its audience, whitewashing crimes and doxxing individuals, it also collaborates with foreign leftwing media to whitewash the crimes of Islamists. On one such instance, Pratik Sinha helped The New Yorker to downplay the Balakot Airstrikes. The same report also cast aspersions on the Pulwama terror Attack that claimed the lives of over forty of our Jawans. The journalist wrote, “Many of the pro-Modi posts turned out to be crude fabrications. Pratik Sinha, of Alt News, pointed out that photos claiming to depict dead Pakistani militants actually showed victims of a heatwave; other images, ostensibly of the strikes, were cribbed from a video game called Arma 2.” The implication was that the Pakistani version of events was accurate and the Indian facts were not despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
On another occasion, British MP Debbie Abrahams deliberately spread misinformation regarding her Visa after the government refused her entry into the country due to her involvement in anti-India activities. Despite being aware of the fact that her visa was invalid, Abrahams had outraged claiming that her visa was ‘revoked’ after it was granted. She also claimed that it was done deliberately because she had been critical of the Indian government ‘over Kashmir human rights issue’. Soon, one of the cofounders of Altnews, jumped to her defence and engaged in a disinformation campaign against the Government of India. It was all a lie and her Visa was rejected prior to her arrival and she was informed of the same.
Recently, in an attempt to whitewash the crimes of the Tablighi Jamaat and certain sections of the Muslim population during the Coronavirus pandemic, Pratik Sinha told the American media organisation NPR, “The right wing has found all these old videos and is circulating them to insinuate that Indian Muslims are knowingly spreading coronavirus and that it is equivalent to terrorist activity.” Quite clearly, the AltNews founder wants everyone to believe that the numerous occasions during the pandemic when sections of the Muslim community have openly flouted lockdown norms, attacked the police and healthcare workers, claimed the virus was “Allah’s NRC” and engaged in despicable behaviour including sexual harassment were all lies despite the overwhelming documented evidence of the said atrocities. It’s the most clear case of defending Radical Muslims.
Pratik Sinha told Vice, where he was introduced as an ‘expert’, when asked about ‘Islamophobia’ during the pandemic, “Whenever I have interacted with fact-checkers in international conferences, I’ve realised that a scale of this kind [of misinformation] does not exist anywhere else but in India. No other country has misinformation weaponised the way it has here. Maybe the United States could compare, but even there, there’s more information literacy. In India, it’s also not just about the scale, but the impact too. In other countries, people don’t go out and lynch people based on misinformation.” Again, the familiar pattern as observed in his previous statement to NPR follows.
Similarly, Pratik Sinha told Public Radio Tulsa, based in Oklahoma in the United States, “Trying to insinuate Indian Muslims unknowingly spreading coronavirus and that it is equivalent to a terrorist activities, that they are doing so, you know, so that Hindus get it.” He was accusing the ‘Hindu Nationalist Party’ of inciting hatred against Muslims.
Thus, AltNews and its founders have graduated from spreading misinformation in India to spreading misinformation around the world. The mandate for them is quite clear: Defend Islamists whatever the cost. Not once have they spoken about the deplorable conduct of the Tablighi Jamaat and the radical Muslims during the Coronavirus pandemic and yet, they continue to pretend as if no Muslim anywhere in India has committed any wrong and it is the Hateful Hindus who are targeting them in a concerted campaign.
The Islamic Propagandists of AltNews
As we have demonstrated here, AltNews, although it calls itself a ‘factchecking website’, is in reality an islamic propagandist portal. Apart from the examples used to demonstrate the techniques used to defend Islamists, there have been numerous other occasions when they have whitewashed the crimes of Islamists or false accused Hindus of guilt. They tried to whitewash the crime of Zahid and Aslam who murdered a three year old in Aligarh last year. They spread misinformation about the Hindu Swastika. The were even caught shielding the Islamists who committed the brutal terror attack in Sri Lanka. Really, it would be difficult to find an Islamist crime which AltNews hasn’t played its propaganda over.
The enthusiasm with which AltNews has defended Islamists should prompt neutral observers to view them in new light. They can no longer be considered as merely ‘factcheckers’ when they have been acting as the propaganda wing of Radical Muslims.