Self-proclaimed “fact-checking” portal Alt News has earned itself the dubious distinction of summarily dishing out “clean chits” based on flimsy evidence and serving as an apologist of Islamists. It employs dubious methods and tricks to absolve Islamists of any wrongdoing and instead paints them as “victims” of Islamophobia.
True to its reputation, it recently carried out a “fact-check” about provocative slogans being raised at a function organised on the occasion of Muharram in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain. A video from the programme had apparently gone viral on the internet, leading many people to allege that “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans were chanted during the function.
The video was shared by many notable personalities, including ABP journalist Brajesh Rajput, BJP UP leader Santosh Singh and Supreme Court advocate Gaurav Bhatia among other folks. MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also weighed in on the controversy, stating that action has been initiated and the accused have been arrested. He further added that the Talibani mindset will not be tolerated.
Just as Alt News has been giving a free pass to the Taliban by “fact-checking” and declaring that their viral videos and images of atrocities are old, it quickly came to the rescue of Islamists in India who routinely hail Pakistan and sing paeans to the Islamic nation.
In its “fact-check” on the Ujjain incident, Alt News claimed it had a “source” who had attended the function and who had claimed that the slogans raised during the event were not related to Pakistan but to a certain Qazi. Alt News fact-check said “Qazi Saab Zindabad” slogans were mistaken for “Pakistan Zindabad”.
To back its assertion, Alt News shared a video from the event, claiming that it is of superior quality as compared to the ones doing the rounds on the internet. It further claimed that one could clearly hear in the alleged superior quality video that the crowd in the background had chanted “Qazi Saab Zindabad” slogans and not “Pakistan Zindabad”.
In their desperate attempt to give a “clean chit” to the people present at the event, Alt News even resorted to claiming that the chants of “Qazi Saab Zindabad” and “Pakistan Zindabad” are phonetically distinct.
Nevertheless, when one hears the videos shared on social media websites or even the “superior quality” video uploaded by Alt News, the chants have uncanny correspondence with “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans. Therefore, to fault social media users for deliberately maligning participants of raising slogans in favour of Pakistan is a stretch at best and a shoddy attempt to whitewash Islamists at worse.
Qazi slogans in one video does not absolve Islamists of chanting “Pakistan Zindabad” on other instances
Even if one assumes that the chants made at the Muharram event in Ujjain were “Qazi Saab Zindabad”, it does not absolve other Islamists elsewhere who raise slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad”. For many decades now, there have been umpteen incidents from across India when slogans in support of Pakistan are raised and victory to the country has been prayed.
To put things in perspective, here is a video from 2015 from Jammu & Kashmir where children as reciting Pakistan national anthem.
But with this dubious fact-check, Alt News tries to blur the line between what’s true and what’s a lie. This is a typical modus operandi employed by Alt News of late. For example, if there are videos of “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans being raised at an event in India, the “fact-checkers” will find a video of an event from Pakistan, where obviously a Muslim mob would be shouting “Pakistan Zindabad”, and conclude that the viral video is from Pakistan and not India.
When it becomes difficult to shield Islamists, the “fact-checkers” lean on extraneous details such as date, time and location to discredit the claims surrounding an incident. So when a video of “Pakistan Zindabad” from a place somewhere in India goes viral on the internet, the “fact-checkers” fall over themselves to search for similar videos from Pakistan.
When they can’t find such videos from Pakistan, they apply themselves to cast aspersions about the viral video, declaring it to be from a particular date and not the one mentioned by the netizens or contest the location about where it was shot. So the fact that “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans were raised becomes an inconsequential fact and the narrative is steered towards the date, time and location on when the event took place.
Dubious methods used by Alt News to shield Islamists under the cover of “fact-check”
In fact, Alt News has often resorted to using devious methods as a part of its modus operandi to give a boost to its propaganda of keeping the Muslim victimhood narrative alive and diligently work towards protecting and whitewashing Islamists. It has mastered several methods to further its narrative while disproving a contrarian worldview. Besides using reverse search images for its propaganda purposes, it has also emphasised nitpicking about petty and irrelevant details of an incident to muddle the readers and sow doubts about the narrative around the incident.
For instance, last year, when a video of a Muslim vegetable vendor applying saliva to his produce had gone viral, Alt News tried to water down the act by alleging that the video of the Muslim vegetable vendor spitting on the vegetables was not from April but from February, as if spitting on the vegetables in February was totally in accordance with the prevailing societal norms.
The question here was, on what basis did Alt News fact-checked the article? Firstly, it is staggeringly preposterous to base one’s fact-check not on the event itself but the date and timing of the event. But the “fact-checkers”, who run an Islamic propaganda website using fact-check as cover, had no qualms in premising their article on the date of the video, even if that meant condoning the act of applying saliva on the vegetables and fruits. So the discussion is suddenly shifted from the immorality of the Muslim vegetable vendor to the provenance of the video being circulated online.
The same continued with the Tablighi Jamaat episode where Alt News went on an overdrive to whitewash the hoodlums of the Muslim seminary, whose unhygienic practices powered the inexorable rise of coronavirus cases in the country in March-April 2020. However, However, slanted ‘fact-check’ website was then so engrossed in their Muslim salvation that they could not bring themselves to acknowledge the fact that the cases in the country had indeed skyrocketed because of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi.
Much recently, about a week ago, Alt News conducted another dubious fact-check after posters bearing inflammatory slogans attributed to prominent Muslims were found in UP’s Pratapgarh. Even before the police completed their investigation to identify miscreants responsible for putting up the posters, Alt News presumptuously declared that Muslims cannot erect such posters because it would attract unfavourable attention towards the community.
And this declaration was made even though evident suggest that innumerable Muslim leaders have not shied away from making threatening and disparaging remarks against Hindus and other religion. But, in their attempt to whitewash provocative Muslim leaders and Islamists, Alt News made a generalised claim that the posters were put up by anyone but Muslims. Early this year, Aam Aadmi Party leader Amanatullah Khan had justified and even nudged mob for beheading of Yati Narsinghanand of Dasna Temple over alleged blasphemy. But because some obscure leader ‘confirmed’ to Alt News that he did not put up the poster, Alt News will use it to ‘prove’ how no one from the community would do such a thing to ruin so-called secular fabric of the nation.
Alt News’ cunning strategem of using “fact checks” to paint the offenders as “victims” of fake news
The recent case of “fact-checking” provocative slogans raised in Ujjain during a Muharram function is yet another attempt by Alt News to shield the delinquent Islamists, who attended the event despite strict prohibitory orders from the government to curb the spread of COVID-19. Such events have the potential of powering subsequent waves of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The state government had not permitted any assembly as per the restrictions imposed in the view of coronavirus outbreak. The fact that the congregation of people during the event in Ujjain was unlawful was also mentioned in the Alt News article. But, in their bid to perpetuate Islamist propaganda, this nugget of information was swept under the rug and a smokescreen of “fact-check” was raised in order to divert attention from the criminal behaviour of the Islamist mob.
And what this insidious attempt at fact check by Alt News effectively does is it shifts the attention from the criminality of the mob that had gathered for Muharram in defiance of COVID-19 protocols and guidelines, and instead proceeds to paint the wrongdoers as “victims” of fake news.