After a report by OpIndia called out lies peddled by self-proclaimed ‘fact-checker’ Pratik Sinha, he has become extremely irritated. He tweeted, “Right-wing in India are going as nutty as the Qanon conspiracy theorists. OpIndia has written articles INSISTING that there’s snow in this picture. The mountains behind indicate no snow (heard of snow peaks?), nothing on the ground, but they see snow. Divorced from reality.”
Sinha had reverse-searched an image shared by TrueIndology and had claimed that since the photo by Getty Images does not mention the word ‘snow’, TrueIndology’s claims are wrong. He had not bothered to verify the original source of the image. TrueIndology’s claim was based on the original image in the book “Kashmir: It’s New Silk Industry” by Sir Thomas Wardle, and it was published in 1904. In the book, on page 376, the title of the image reads, “Fakir or Holy Man on Lunka Island, Dal lake, sitting in the snow in winter.” The photograph was clicked by Geoffrey William Millais.
The issue is NOT snow
The issue we had raised was not even about snow. The issue was that Sinha’s brainchild AltNews fails to fact-check things properly, especially when the news includes anyone from the Right Wing. Let it be an ordinary citizen of India or a news agency like OpIndia. The main aim of AltNews in such cases revolves around demeaning the citizen or the organisation and providing dubious sources while claiming to ‘fact-check’ them. Sinha not only tried to counter OpIndia’s fact-check with further misinformation but also got angry on netizens who replied to him stating he is wrong.
Do you have eyes? Do you see the picture?— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) November 24, 2020
Picture is clear enough to make out whether there’s snow or not. The bias in your head is so enormous that it has rendered you blind despite having functional eyes.— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) November 24, 2020
In this case, though Getty Images is the current owner of the photograph, they are not using the same caption provided in the primary source that is the 1904 book “Kashmir: It’s New Silk Industry” by Sir Thomas Wardle. Getty Image is a platform to buy and sell images. It is not a platform to fact-check the claims and source of any image. It is just like citing Wikipedia as a source in a research paper. A photographer or an agency may make a mistake in the caption while uploading the image. But that does not make the original photograph, its text, or context used on it fake.
In the book, the caption of the image states, “Fakir or Holy Man on Lunka Island, Dal lake, sitting in the snow in winter.” We have provided genuine links and screenshots of the original book and photograph. Further, he needs to understand that we are talking about the 1900s. Photography was not that advanced at that time. Getting hold of a negative plate of the photograph to produce a high-quality image is next to impossible. One can only rely on the original sources where the photograph was used. The photograph’s quality in the book is not that great, and the caption clearly states there was snow.
Moreover, Pratik Sinha had accused TrueIndology of inventing details and sharing false information. But TrueIndology had done neither. His claim was based on the 1904 book published by Sir Thomas Wardle. Pratik Sinha had clearly failed to verify his facts from the original source, but had claimed he had done a ‘fact-check’ based on a Getty Images photo. Sinha, instead of acknowledging his mistake, or apologising to TrueIndology, has resorted to slander. When his lies were caught, he had brazened it out.
When his lies and his dubious methods of ‘fact-checking’ was called out on Twitter, Sinha started shifting the goalposts, trying to locate clear, white snow in a grainy photograph that is 116 years-old.