On March 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned in his speech at Dhaka, Bangladesh, that he was arrested while doing Satyagraha organised by the Jan Sangh in August 1971 under the leadership of Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Several media outlets and liberals have since mocked PM Modi, alleging he is lying about his arrest and participation in any such event.
Boom Live, a fact-checker with a complicated relationship with facts, has published a long article trying to dig out the information on PM Modi’s presence in Satyagraha movement organised by Jan Sangh in 1971. In its report, Boom Live alleged that there was no mention of his arrest in the book published by PM Modi by the name ‘Sangharsh Ma Gujarat’.
Blurb of the old edition of the book mentions the arrest
According to Boom Live, they accessed the PDF format of the book available online. The fourth edition of the book is available in PDF format on PM Modi’s website narendramodi.in. Over the time, the back cover of the book and the content on the back cover was changed. What Boom Live checked was the fourth edition in which there was no mention of Bangladesh.
पीएम @narendramodi ने बांग्लादेश के निर्माण के लिए सत्याग्रह में भाग लेने और इसके लिए जेल जाने का आज ढाका में ज़िक्र क्या किया, उनके आलोचकों के पेट में दर्द हो गया। संदेह का माहौल खड़ा किया जाने लगा! इन आलोचकों को 1978 में प्रकाशित इस किताब के बैक कवर को देखकर मायूस होना पड़ेगा! pic.twitter.com/8QBcUQD5E4— Brajesh Kumar Singh (@brajeshksingh) March 26, 2021
However, in the earlier edition of the book that was published in 1978, there was a line “Agau Bangladesh satyagrreh samay Tihar jail jai avela che” that translates to “He went to Tihar Jail during the time of Bangladesh Satyagrah”.
It should be mentioned that while the book “Sangharsh Ma Gujarat” may not have details on PM Modi’s participation in the Bangladesh Satyagraha, the blurb carried it. The ‘About the Author’ section of the book, which mentioned PM Modi’s participation in Bangladesh Satyagraha, provides a brief profile of the author. It need not necessarily give inputs about the content of the book. However, it seems it is too much to expect from from ‘fact-checkers’
Mention of PM Modi’s arrest in a book by Andy Marino
In the book written by Andy Marino titled “Narendra Modi: A Political Biography” that was published in 2014, there was a mention of his arrest. In the chapter three of the book, it was written, “The RSS was holding sit-down demonstrations in sympathy with the Bangladesh solidarity movement and practising ‘satyagraha’, Mahatma Gandhi’s method of nonviolent protest. Narendra, at this time, was only informally tied to the RSS but says that he travelled up to Delhi to take part in one such protest. In a country on the brink of war, where India’s security was ‘threatened by external aggression’, to demonstrate against the government was tantamount to sedition.
The protesters were demanding the right for RSS workers to join the army, which was yet forbidden. ‘But instead of sending us to the war front, the government arrested us and sent us to Tihar jail,’ recalled Modi. Many Twitter users also shared the excerpt to show that the fact-checkers had their facts mixed up.
His imprisonment was brief, and Narendra was soon released, indicating that the episode was simply the authorities sweeping clean the streets. It was in early 1972, just after the war ended, that Vakil Saheb stepped in and took Narendraformally into the RSS fold.”
Fack-checking as a tool for propaganda
In the recent years, ‘liberal’ media have adopted fact-checking as a tool for propaganda wherein they dismiss certain claims or call them ‘fake news’ based on a completely different set of data. In Boom Live’s report itself it does not dismiss PM Modi’s participation in Bangladesh Satyagraha. However, by stating that his book, the ‘About the Author’ section that was widely shared, did not contain details about the Satyagraha, the ‘fact-checker’ cast aspersions on the authenticity of the claim itself.
This, of course, is not the first time PM Modi has been attacked for his speeches.
In February 2021, TMC’s Derek O’Brien tried to “Fact Check” PM Modi’s speech. However, his fact-check was full of lies itself which were rebutted point-by-point by BJP Bengal. In February 2019, when PM Modi said that he had hoisted the flag on Lal Chowk, Srinagar in 1992, the liberal force jumped in to mock him. However, in reality, PM Modi did hoist the flag at Lal Chowk, and there is photographic evidence of the same available. In August 2018, Fact Check India and other liberals tried to defame PM Modi by saying he had misled people in Independence Day speech. OpIndia did a point-by-point fact-check and found all his claims to be true.
In April 2017, media outlets subtly misreported PM Modi’s speech that led to a flood of a fact-check. When the speech was checked, it was found that PTI wrongly quoted the Prime Minister. NDTV had tweeted the same. Fact checker, instead of checking the facts, trusted the NDTV tweet of the PTI quoted as gospel truth, and on that basis, ran a story whose title said that Modi had got something wrong. But the fact is, PM Modi had never said it!