Misinformation and fear-mongering have become the biggest tools for the opposition parties, left-leaning liberal journalists and propagandist to cause disruption and panic in the country. At the moment, India is facing a Covid-19 pandemic. Amidst such times, everyone needs to restrain themselves from spreading any misinformation. However, some see it as an opportunity to spread their propaganda.
Kashmiri journalist post old photo as recent
A Kashmiri journalist identified as Aarif Shah posted a photograph of an old lady hooked to an oxygen cylinder while sitting on the road. Shah wrote, “This is where India is right now,” suggesting the photo was taken recently. By the time we published this report, Shah had deleted the tweet. However, it had crossed over 1000 RTs by that time. We tried to find if he had posted any apology for the misleading tweet, but he did not.
The same image was shared by the RVCJ group as well, but it seems now they have deleted the post after backlash. In the post, they had written, “nothing can be worse than this.”
TMC’s official Twitter handle of ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata’ also shared the same image. By the time this report was published, this post was still up on the account.
When we reverse searched the image, it was found that the photograph was from the 2018 ANI report where a man was allegedly made to wait for an ambulance at Agra Medical College while carrying an oxygen cylinder on his shoulder. The photograph was taken when he kept the cylinder down for a while. We are not saying that there is nothing wrong with what happened in 2018 but passing it as a recent one fuels not only the misinformation but also causes fear among the public.
Photograph from Maharashtra passed on as from Gujarat
Swara Bhaskar’s friend and Director of Anaarkali Of Aarah, Avinash Das, shared an image on April 20 in which people were seen lying down on the floor with drips attached to their arms. He wrote, “Gujarat model of healthcare! Picture of Tapi district, where corona patients are being treated in tents.”
The same image was shared by the official Twitter handle of ‘Banglar Gorbo Mamata’, which is TMC’s 75-day outreach program. In the tweet, they wrote, “Gujrat. PM Cares?” and used the hashtag #ModiHataoDeshBachao.
When we reverse searched the image, it turned out to be from Navapur, Maharashtra. It was not even about Covid, but it was about treating typhoid patients. Due to the shortage of beds in hospitals amidst rising cases of Covid, the patients had to get treatment in tents. The image is from Maharashtra’s Navapur and is dated April 20, 2021.
Reaction from Netizens
Netizens are criticizing such misleading posts and demanding action against those who have posted them.
वेरिफाइड pro TMC वामपंथी हैंडल से फर्जी खबरें आ रही है।— Heera Thakur (@ViewsIdentity) April 21, 2021
पहली तस्वीर महाराष्ट्र की है, गुजरात की नही।
दूसरी तस्वीर कोविड के दौर की भी नहीं है यह 3 साल से अधिक पुराना है।
यदि BJP शासित राज्य इतना ही बुरा कर रहे हैं, तो ये नकली तस्वीरें लाने का क्या उद्देश्य हैं?
Hello @TwitterIndia, will you mark TMC official handles for Fake News?— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) April 21, 2021
This image is from media declared world’s best CM @OfficeOfUT ruled Maharashtra. https://t.co/OS8tzce68V pic.twitter.com/Q4wbgwDbCT
Because of people like @avinashonly yesterday PM Modi said अफवाह और भृम से बचें।— Lala 🇮🇳 (@Lala_The_Don) April 21, 2021
Pictures are from Maharashtra, any action @GujaratPolice on this fake news during such tough time of pandemic? pic.twitter.com/TyPniIs6Uo
What does the law say?
Though India does not have any specific law that can deal with the misinformation, there are some provisions in IPC, IT Act and Disaster Management Act that can be used against such posts.
According to Section 505(1) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, anyone who makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumours or report that may cause fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public can be punished with imprisonment that may extend to 3 years or fine or both.
According to the Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by impersonating can be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
According to Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, can be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to one year or with a fine or both.