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How propaganda was crafted to promote an out-on-bail fact-checker while he did not even make it to the shortlist by Soros-funded NGO for Nobel Peace Prize

The names of Muhammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha were mentioned in a shortlist published by Peace Research Institute Oslo for 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, but actually Harsh Mander was in the shortlist and the Alt News founders were named in the para on Mander as other probable names, but not shortlisted

October 5 was no less than Eid for the liberal cabal as their two favourite self-proclaimed fact-checkers and founders of propaganda website Alt News, Muhammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, made the list of Time’s “favourites to win the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize“. The list of “favourites” was published by Time based on nominations that were made public via “Norwegian lawmakers, bookmakers’ odds, and a personal shortlist by the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Russia’s jailed opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization, Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, and the Myanmar National Unity Government were among the top favourites of Times along with Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair. Time also mentioned another Indian name that was Harsh Mander, for his project Karwan-e-Mohabbat.

As Time’s report authored by Sanya Mansoor got published, several Indian media houses jumped to the front to announce that the duo got “nominated” for the Nobel Peace Prize or at least suggested that they are indeed in the race.

The News Minute published a report titled “Zubair and Pratik of Alt News among favourites for Nobel Peace Prize”, and in the sub-heading, they wrote, “PRIO has nominated activist Harsh Mander for the prize.” They noted that PRIO had listed them as nominees last year, and this year, they named Harsh Mander. Interestingly, when we checked 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 lists of PRIO, the duo were mentioned nowhere. It is unclear which PRIO list The News Minute checked where the duo were mentioned.

Source: The News Minute

Outlook India published a report titled “Fact-checker Duo Pratik Sinha And Mohammed Zubair Feature In Nobel Peace Prize Contenders’ List”. They also failed to explain where Time might have come up with the conclusion that the duo had been nominated by someone.

Source: Outlook

NDTV published a report titled “Indian Fact-Checker Duo Among Choices For Nobel Peace” and put it on Time. The report read, “According to Time, the co-founders of fact-check site AltNews, Mr Sinha and Mr Zubair, are among those who could be considered to win the prize based on nominations that were made public via Norwegian lawmakers, predictions from bookmakers, and picks from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).” Interestingly, Time never said so. It just said the list is “their favourites”.

Source: NDTV

The Wire published a report titled “Alt News Co-Founders Among ‘Favourites’ For Peace Nobel, PRIO Shortlist Has Harsh Mander”. Again, The Wire also described what was written in Time’s report and what was written about Harsh in PRIO’s list but did not explain where Time could have gotten the impression that the duo had been nominated for the Peace Prize.

Source: Wire

The Pioneer decided to ride without holding back and published a report titled “Alt News founders in the race for Nobel Peace Prize” without explaining how Time might have come up with the names.

Source: The Pioneer

Every media house said that Time’s list was based on the nominations made public by Norwegian lawmakers, predictions from bookmakers and picks from the PRIO director’s personal list. There have been no specifics given by Time or any other media house about the duo’s names mentioned by someone authentic.

The liberal cabal enjoyed the fiction ride with Time

After media houses, how can the liberal cabal stay put and not speak about the so-called nominations! Many congratulated the duo on their ‘nominations’. Here are some of our favourites.

Propaganda website The Logical Indian wrote in a tweet, “According to Time, Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, co-founders of the fact-checking platform AltNews, are among the contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.”

Source: Twitter

TS Studio said, “Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, the fact-checking duo tirelessly dampening flames of misinformation in India, were announced as this year’s favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Irrespective of whether they win or not, the news cements the link between truth-telling and xenophobic violence in the country.” They even published a piece explaining why the nomination holds the importance. A nomination that we will later explain does not even exist.

Source: Twitter

Press Club of India’s treasurer Chander Shekhar Luthra said, “Is that a slap on our System (govt, what godi media says).”

Source: Twitter

Islamist portal Milli Gazette’s founder Zafarul-Islam Khan said, “Indian fact-checker duo among favorites for Nobel Peace Price! Great news. Great relief. Hard and sincere work always gets recognised. Congrats Zubair and Sinha.”

Source: Twitter

BBC correspondent Vineet Khare said, “Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair are among the favourites to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize!!! All the best!!!”

Source: Twitter

General Secretary SFI Mayukh Biswas said, “Alt News cofounders Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair nominated and shortlisted for Nobel Peace Prize.”

Source: Twitter

The News Minute journalist Korah Abraham said, “So much happiness about this! Zubair and Pratik of Alt News among favourites for Nobel Peace Prize.”

Source: Twitter

Journalist Omvesh Upadhyay said, “Congratulations to Pratik Sinha and Mohammad Zubair for making it to Nobel Peace prize nominations 2022. It will inspire many alternative and media startup guys in nation. #altnews stirred controversy & govt. both! On this occasion you can listen below ep. on fighting fake news.”

Source: Twitter

Journalist Zeba Warsi said, “AMAZING! Indian fact-checkers Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair are among favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Alt News has been doing path-breaking, crucial work in India. Mohd Zubair has braved intimidation and arrests. Rooting for you both!”

Source: Twitter

MLA Rais Shaikh said, “My best wishes to Pratik Sinha & Mohd Zubair for being nominated for the Nobel peace prize 2022. Indeed, a proud moment for all of Us. The hardwork they have put in for debunking fake news despite daily hate, threats & trolls is commendable. Keep up the good work.”

Source: Twitter

Islamist organisation Indian American Muslim Council said, “Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair of Alt News have been running a campaign debunking misinformation in India since 2017. Now they are among the front-runners for Nobel Peace Prize.”

Source: Twitter

Actress Konkona Sen Sharma urged people to donate for Alt News as its founders were nominated for Nobel. She said, “As per TIME these guys are one of the favourites to win Nobel Peace Prize this year. Please donate generously!”

Source: Twitter

Ex-Buzzfeed India employee Andre Borger said, “Zubair and Pratik are on the short list for Nobel Peace Prize for battling the hate machinery against Muslims, encouraged by the ever rising threat of the BJP’s communal attacks, massive hate spewing IT cell, and vigilantes literally lynching and killing Muslims in the street.”

Source: Twitter

Famous troll Nimo Tai said, “As per Times report, Md. Zubair and Pratik Sinha are among the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize” and added photos of a lady burying herself suggesting that was the state of “Godi media” a term used for media houses allegedly siding with PM Modi-led central government. Writer Hussain Haidry said, “So happy and thrilled to see Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! Many congratulations and duas for both.”

Source: Twitter

The fact of the ‘nomination’ of Zubair and Pratik

All these claims of Muhammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha are misleading and wrong, and there is no certainty that they are being considered for the elite prize. The Nobel committee does not reveal shortlists for awards for 50 years, but the source where the duo’s name comes from makes it clear that they are not in the official nomination or shortlist. Actually, the duo’s name was added as an afterthought in a Nobel Peace prize shortlist made by Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), which had actually ‘shortlisted’ Harsh Mander, and added the names of Md Zubair and Pratik Sinha as other probable names from India.

In February this year, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) shortlisted people from around the world who they deemed fit to receive the Nobel Prize. Though their list has nothing to do with the actual list of laureates that receive the prize, they have been doing it since 2002. According to PRIO’s website, their list is widely covered by the international media. This year, PRIO’s director Henrik Urdal, who has been in the post since 2017, named Harsh Mander as one of the five shortlisted candidates that he thinks would be the best fit to receive the Nobel Prize.

PRIO did not name the duo as nominees but only named them as “worthy contenders”. Source: PRIO

In the para on shortlisted Harsh Mander, Alt News’s Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha were also listed as worthy candidates for a prize focused on “combating religious extremism and intolerance in India” as they have contributed significantly “to debunking misinformation aimed at vilifying Muslims in India.” However, they did not find a place in the five names and were mentioned under Harsh Mander’s “nomination” as an afterthought.

The five shortlisted by PRIO were 1. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya & Alexei Navalny, 2. International Court of Justice, 3. Harsh Mander & Karwan-e-Mohabbat, 4. Ilham Tohti, Agnes Chow & Nathan Law, and 5. HRDAG & CANVAS, and the Alt News founders were not among them. They were just mentioned under the para of Harsh Mander & Karwan-e-Mohabbat.

Now, it has to be noted that the PRIO’s list has nothing to do with the Nobel Peace Prize. As per the guidelines laid down by the Nobel Committee, the director of PRIO is eligible to nominate anyone for the prize. However, according to PRIO’s website, PRIO’s director does not nominate anyone for the prize because of his active role as a commentator on the Peace Prize. It further reads, “Neither the Director nor the Institute he leads have any form of association with the Nobel Institute or the Norwegian Nobel Committee.”

It is further notable that PRIO has links to George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. George Soros’s Open Society Foundation has funded PRIO for two consecutive years, 2019 and 2020. Under the section Sources of Income for those two years, PRIO has listed the Open Society Foundation as a donor.

The description of the list reads, “This list is sorted by size of income and includes all those exceeding 50,000 NOK per year.” That means PRIO got at least USD 5,600 from the Open Society Foundation in 2019 and 2020. The 2021 annual report is yet to be published by PRIO.

On Soros’s website, PRIO has been listed as one of the beneficiaries of the Soros grant. As per the records, PRIO received $1,40,000 in 2017 for a two-year term.

Not to forget, Harsh Mander, who was listed as one of the deserving candidates for the Nobel Prize by PRIO’s director, has been associated with the Open Society Foundation. He has served as an Advisory Board member of the international grantmaking network founded by George Soros. His role in instigating the Anti-Hindu Delhi riots, particularly the violence around the Jamia Millia Islamia campus in December 2019, has been under scrutiny for some time now. Ironically, he had later filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court seeking the arrest of BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Kapil Mishra for instigating violence.

Notably, George Soros has been fueling a dangerous anti-India narrative using media and ‘civil society. The Hungarian-American businessman and a self-proclaimed philanthropist who had vowed to ‘fight nationalists’ and conservative governments worldwide, which he often refers to as ‘authoritarian governments. During the course of his life, if there is one thing George Soros has hated the most, it is India and its nationalist government led by Prime Minister Modi.

Investigation to other public nominations to search for the duo’s name

As PRIO’s list cannot be considered a “nomination for the Novel Peace Prize”, we searched for other resources mentioned by Time as they compiled the list based on these public nominations itself.

The Time mentioned Reuter’s survey. When we checked the list, we found Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, British nature broadcaster David Attenborough, the World Health Organization, environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis, Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe, and Myanmar’s National Unity government among the list of the nominees by the Norwegian lawmakers. We could not find the duo’s name. Al Jazeera also named the nominees based on publicly available names. The Alt News duo was not there on this list as well. Even the name of Harsh Mander does not appear in these lists.

Then came the bookmakers’ odds. For those who do know who bookmakers are, it is a term used for the persons or organisations whose job is to take bets on something. They also announce odds for the nominees of the Nobel Peace Prize, among many other things. In India, we call it “Satta” or “Jua”. We hope this makes things clearer.

Anyway, we checked multiple websites that listed the odds for the Nobel Peace Prize, including Lithub, bookmakers.net, oddschecker.com and others but could not find any list that has the names of Mohammed Zubair or Pratik Sinha or Alt News.

Conclusion points towards PRIO

After all the research, we can assume that Time’s mention of Pratik Sinha and Mohammed Zubair came from PRIO’s list. A list that does not even mention them in the main shortlist for the Nobel Peace prize for the year 2022. A list that does not even make a difference to who wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Speaking about Time, it is unclear how they claim that the duo is among the favourite when no one has nominated them, at least we could not find any authentic source of their nomination.

The curious case of nomination and its effect

The way Alt News’ founders’ names got propagated as contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize is not only dangerous but also raises several red flags. None of the media houses tried to verify if they were nominated. Earlier, we explained how nominations are made and presented the facts that the list of nominations for any particular year is not made public before 50 years of the prize distribution. Despite this fact, everyone jumped and made it look as if the duo were actually nominated. Based on this alleged nomination, people like Konkona Sen even asked to donate to Alt News.

In the long run, this propaganda will be used to establish the authenticity of the highly biased “fact-checking” website i.e. Alt News. They may not use it themselves, but just like Sen, others will openly use this non-existing nomination for years to come.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s name will be announced on October 7, 2022.

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Anurag
Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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