Fraud fact-checking: AltNews co-founder Pratik Sinha spreads fake news while attempting to ‘fact-check’ old picture of a Hindu Sadhu

AltNews' Pratik Sinha was caught lying, again.

Pratik Sinha, the founder of the leftist portal AltNews, has been caught lying again on his social media account. On November 23, Sinha posted a tweet alleging that an image posted by popular Twitter user ‘TrueIndology’ on his Instagram account was fake. It appears from the tweet that Sinha reverse-searched the image and found the source as Getty Images, a stock image platform.

Without confirming first where Getty Images got hold of the picture, he made the allegation that True Indology is a fraud.

A 116-year old image

OpIndia dug into the source of the image and found some interesting facts about it. True Indology posted the caption as “The wonder that WAS Kashmir: A Hindu Sanyasi sitting on the banks of Dal Lake, Srinagar in 1904. He is almost naked in extreme snow. The climate does not seem to bother him. Sanyasis and pandits along the banks of Dal was once a common sight in Kashmir The emphatic word is “WAS”.”

According to Pratik Sinha, the image source, which, according to him, was Getty Images, did not mention ‘snow’ anywhere in the post. However, the image was first used in a book titled “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 archive of the book is freely available on Indian Culture, a government of India website. A clearer version of the book is available on Google Books.

Rebuttal by True Indology

TrueIndology rebutted Sinha’s claims in a long post on Facebook. While providing the source of the image and the caption, True Indology wrote, “The fact is that Pratik Sinha has not read the book and does not know anything about history or climate of Kashmir. The fact that the Sadhu was sitting in extreme snow was attested by the original photographer who took the picture which was published 116 years ago in a book!”

Netizen’s reaction on Sinha’s fake post

Netizens were amazed by how Pratik Sinha, a self-proclaimed ‘fact-checker’, did not try to find more information about the image. Sinha had probably done just done a reverse-image search on Google and when he found the Getty Images file, had hurried to brand True Indology as a fake-news peddler.

However, several Twitter users did a better fact check than the self-proclaimed ‘fact-checker’ that is Pratik Sinha. They not only provided the links of the book and original image’s screenshots from the book but also replied with videos of Sadhus meditating in the snow without any woollen clothes.

The Hulton Archive

The image of a Sadhu sitting at the Lunka Island in Dal Lake in snow, clicked by Geoffrey William Millais over a century ago, was a part of Hulton Archive that was purchased by Getty Images in 1996. The Archive (Picture Post) is considered to be an important historical documentary source. It has over 30 million images within 1500 individual collections. The process of digitizing the images started in 2000. In 2003, Getty Images started migrating Hulton Archive in its parent website.

Self-proclaimed ‘fact-checker’ Sinha had based his fact-check on just a reverse-image search online, without bothering to check the original source of the image.

AltNews’s long history of fake news

This is not the first time AltNews, its founders and employees have been caught spreading blatant fake news while claiming to be ‘fact-checkers’. In September, Union Minister Piyush Goyal rebutted the claims made by AltNews that migrant workers died on Shramik Trains. Activist Ankur Singh had posted a series of tweets showcasing how AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair tried to spread fake news on social media platforms. In June, AltNews tried to save a Muslim accused while ‘fact-checking’ the death of the pregnant elephant story. After they were exposed, the article was quietly changed.

Off late, the self-proclaimed ‘fact-checkers’ have extended their whitewashing services to Chinese clients too.

OpIndia Staff: Staff reporter at OpIndia