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I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar Wants to Curb Fake News — Will He Start With His Own Party?

A non-exhaustive list of times when BJP leaders and the party's IT cell spread blatant lies to mislead the Indian public.

Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said on June 5, 2019 that the government will take all necessary steps to curb the fake news menace. “To stop fake news will be our first agenda,” he was quoted as saying. Well, if that is true, we expect the process to begin with Javadekar cleaning up his own house — the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In the past five years, it appears that BJP leaders have pioneered the cause of spreading misinformation. To help the minister refresh his memory, here is a list of notable instances on which his party leaders went beyond the call of duty to ensure that they mislead the Indian public.

UNESCO declares India’s national anthem ‘best in the world’

Even Rabindranath Tagore would have refused to believe that. But BJP MP from Delhi, Meenakshi Lekhi did. And when her lie was busted, she posted this weird tweet to defend her gullibility.

Nobel laureate Richard Thaler ‘praises’ demonetisation

In the aftermath of demonetisation, the fake news machinery was running on steroids to mould public opinion in the favour of the policy which caused extreme hardship to millions. BJP IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya claimed that American economist Richard Thaler, who had won a Nobel in 2017, endorsed demonetisation.

Thaler had only said that he supported economies going cashless — but introducing a Rs 2,000 note is the opposite of that.

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Malviya still has not deleted his misleading tweet. Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Giriraj Singh also peddled the same fake claim.

Spreading propaganda to polarise Hindus and Muslims

BJP leader Vijeta Malik posted a still from a Bhojpuri film, which depicts a saree-clad woman being molested, and claimed that it was a Hindu woman being attacked by Muslims in West Bengal.

Vijeta Malik BJP Fake news

Similarly, Asansol BJP IT cell in-charge, Tarun Sengupta, was arrested in July 2017 for spreading fake news and creating communal disharmony. West Bengal CID tweeted pictures of the said Facebook post. In the post, he had claimed that “Muslim IPS officers” had thrashed “Hanuman Bhakts” in Birbhum district of the state. The post was highly divisive and bigoted in nature, and even referred to Mamata Banerjee as “Mumtaz Begum”.

A non-bailable warrant had reportedly been issued against a BJP spokesperson in the state, Nupur Sharma, for using a picture of 2002 Gujarat riots and passing it off as a picture as that of the violence in West Bengal’s Basirhat.

Maligning Jawaharlal Nehru

The right-wing ecosystem has relentlessly spread misinformation about Nehru being a ‘womaniser’ by using his pictures of social interactions with women — friends and family — to peddle the false, lascivious narrative.

This brigade is led by no other than Amit Malviya. In response to the alleged sex CD of Hardik Patel, Malviya tweeted this set of pictures. Some of these are Nehru’s pictures with his sister Vijaylakshmi Pandit.

Amit Malviya liar

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Balakot airstrike killed 200-300 terrorists

While the Indian armed forces have not stated the exact impact of the airstrike, top BJP leaders have nevertheless pulled numbers out of thin air and have even used unrelated videos to support their lies.

BJP president and now Union Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed that over 250 terrorists were killed in the strike. Similarly, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said in a press conference that the strikes killed 200 terrorists.

He cited a video, already debunked by AltNews, that had been”shared by a US-based Gilgit activist who claimed that the video represented a Pakistani army officer admitting to the martyrdom of 200 militants. Ironically, the activist had also stated to ANI that he does not vouch for the video’s authenticity.”

Alt News found “that Pakistani army men and others in the video were not talking about the martyrdom of 200 militants, but the death of only one man.

Here’s what the audio says – “ये रुतबा अल्लाह के कुछ ख़ास बन्दों को नसीब होता है. आपको पता है की कुछ 200 बन्दे ऊपर गए थे? इसके नसीब में लिखा हुआ था शहादत. हम रोज़ाना चढ़ते है, जाते है, आते है. तो ये अल्लाह के ख़ास बन्दे, जिसपे करम होता है, जिसपे उनकी ख़ास नज़र-ओ-करम होती है, उसको ये नसीब होता है…परेशान नहीं होना तुम्हारा वालिद मरा नहीं है, ज़िंदा है. मरा हुआ नहीं बोलते. (This is a privilege received by only a few men special to God. Did you know some 200 men went up? Martyrdom was in his destiny. We climb every day, we go and come back. So he is special to God, who had God’s mercy, and was destined for this. Don’t get worried, your father is not dead, he is alive. You shouldn’t say he is dead.)””

Ravi Shankar Prasad never issued a clarification.

Amethi booth capturing lie & claim of man being denied treatment because he had an Ayushman card

In the right-wing ecosystem Union Minister Smriti Irani is second to only Amit Malviya in spreading fake news. At the time of Rohtih Vemula’s death, she lied in the parliament multiple times about the circumstances surrounding his suicide. This includes claiming that he was not a Dalit.

Similarly, during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Irani had shared a video of an elderly woman in Amethi, and claimed that the Congress was indulging in booth capturing.

However, the Election Commission clarified that the claim was false. “Following the complaint, the sector officer, senior officials and even observers rushed to the booth and spoke to the polling agents of the political parties, other officials in the polling booth following which it was conclusively found that the charges in the video clip were fabricated. Due to prima facie allegations in the clip, the presiding officer was summarily removed while the probe was going on,” Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer had said.

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However, Irani did not apologise or take down her tweet.

Similarly, she had claimed on May 5 that Rahul Gandhi was responsible for the death of a patient at the Sanjay Gandhi hospital in Amethi. The same false claim was reiterated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election speech.

As per an investigation carried out by TV9 Bharatvarsh, Nanhe Lal, the patient, was admitted to the hospital and treatment was given to him.

TV9 managed to unearth documents that prove that Nanhe Lal — who was suffering from severe liver damage — was admitted to the hospital on April 25. The admission card of the deceased proves this.  He died on April 26, despite the medical treatment. TV9 also had the death certificate of Nanhe Lal, issued by the Sanjay Gandhi hospital.

“When Nanhe Lal was admitted to our hospital at 11 pm on April 25, he did not have an Ayushman Bharat card with him,” said a hospital employee, speaking to TV9. He added, “But because his condition was severe, he was admitted immediately. The family members came with the Ayushman card the following day. But we do not have any system where Ayushman can be applied on a backdated manner. We said that let the treatment continue; money would not be an issue.”

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