As India grapples with a formidable second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, some online portals, known for their penchant for publishing fake news, have doubled down on their efforts to portray the government of the day in a bad light. Recently, leftist website Scroll published a misleading headline to denigrate the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh.
Scroll published an article titled ‘FIR filed against man who sought Twitter help for oxygen for grandfather in Uttar Pradesh’. The headline of the article suggested that the FIR was filed against a man simply because he used social media to seek help for oxygen for his grandfather.
The article mentioned that an FIR has been filed against Shashank Yadav, who had yesterday posted a tweet seeking oxygen, on the charges of allegedly circulating a rumour with the intent to cause fear or alarm. Citing an Indian Express report, the Scroll article said police had claimed the man was spreading misleading information. The report even quoted the police officer who claimed that Yadav had provided false information on oxygen supply and the coronavirus to target the Uttar Pradesh government.
However, The Scroll conveniently skipped out mentioning that the FIR against the man has been filed, not because he demanded oxygen on Twitter, but because he tried to spread misleading information about the oxygen supply and the coronavirus. The headline by The Scroll tried to paint the UP government as villain, even though the police inquiry found the man’s tweet to be false, based on which aspersions were raised against the state government.
If this was not enough, the Scroll article even ahead to defend the Twitter user saying, “Though the man did not mention Covid, the police accused him of circulating a rumor with the intent to cause fear or alarm during the pandemic.”
At a time when the country is grappling with the scourge of the COVID-19 outbreak, most oxygen-related SoS messages on social media these days are about patients suffering from COVID-19. It is but natural that such fake messages on social media about the unavailability of oxygen would further increase the fear and panic among society, especially among COVID-19 patients and their relatives. However, in their bid to spite the UP government, the Scroll seems to be willing to allow rumors to spread unchecked and panic to take root among the people.
Shashank mislead the police to create sensation, his relative was neither a Covid patient nor needed oxygen
Earlier Today, the police booked Shashank under the Epidemic Act, accusing him of creating fear among the people after he went on Twitter asking for an oxygen cylinder for his 88-year-old relative.
An FIR was lodged against Yadav under relevant sections of the Epidemic Act, and he was served a notice under section 41 of the CrPC (requiring appearance before the police to prevent the person from committing any further offence). The police claimed Shashank’s motive was to create sensation and fear. However, Amethi Police have informed that he was only served a notice and was only given a warning. He was allowed to go.
कोविड-19 के समय में शशांक यादव द्वारा किये गये ट्वीट तथा सोशल मीडिया प्लेटफॉर्म पर भ्रामक तथ्य व अफवाह न फैलाने के संबंध में #SP_अमेठी श्री दिनेश सिंह द्वारा की गई अपील @Uppolice @dgpup @adgzonelucknow @igrangeayodhya @PrashantK_IPS90 @CMOfficeUP @ChiefSecyUP pic.twitter.com/6pYsj7MVIi— AMETHI POLICE (@amethipolice) April 28, 2021
The police further clarified that the patient Shashank had mentioned was not his own grandfather but the grandfather of his cousin. The said grandfather was 88 years old and was neither a Covid patient nor had been prescribed medical oxygen by any doctor.
The police informed that after carelessly tweeting to create unnecessary sensation, Shashank had fallen asleep and was not responding to multiple phone calls. The police officials had to track his phone’s location with technical help.
The police stated that at a time when govt’s resources and man-power are stretched thin to provide maximum possible help to people who need it, false SOS and sensationalism created by irresponsible individuals like Shashank waste valuable time and resources that could have helped other persons who actually need them.
The whole matter pertains to a tweet posted by one Shashank Yadav in which he said that he urgently required an oxygen cylinder for his friend’s Nanaji in Amethi. The message was amplified by The Wire journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani, who tagged Union Minister Smriti Irani for help.
In no time, Ms Irani responded, stating that she had called Yadav multiple times but was not able to reach out to him. She added that she had asked the district magistrate and the Amethi police to follow up.
By this time, Shashank’s grandfather had expired. Later, Amethi District Magistrate Arun Kumar responded to Arfa’s tweet with the Chief Medical Officer’s report. The report mentioned that Yadav’s grandfather did not have COVID-19 and was undergoing treatment at a private hospital. Subsequently, the official Twitter account of Amethi police responded on Shashank’s tweet, stating that his grandfather did not have COVID-19 and he died of a heart attack at 8 pm.