Political leaders and celebrities are pushing stories of alternate reality at a fierce speed in India -- and targeting their own country in the process. They are openly resorting to fake news not just about the origin and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic but also about the containment measures introduced in the country.
Often unleashed by bad actors or on behalf of hostile countries which are always on the lookout of vulnerable handles to spread anti-India propaganda in an unending information war, many prominent personalities, including journalists and politicians, have fallen prey to their nasty designs.
Spread of such misleading information surged ever since India announced lockdown in late March which set many migrant workers on an arduous journey to their native places.
However, many of the images claiming to represent migrants workers have now been found to be of not the people they claim to represent.
An image tweeted by journalist Rana Ayyub was one of them. The image depicted a group of men who were made to squat while holding their ears.
"Punishing the labourers for leaving the lockdown. Cry my beloved country," she had tweeted in March.
But in reality, the people in the image were simple lockdown violators who were shamed by cops to deter others, not necessarily labourers leaving the lockdown.
The photo was picked by many other Twitter users who then shared with their followers with captions conveying a similar message that Ayyub did.
A photo of a Rohingya girl clicked in Bangladesh in 2017, which also appeared as Congress leader Alka Lamba's display picture on Twitter for some time, also became talking point on Twitter after prominent Urdu poet Imran Pratapgarhi used the image of the teary-eyed girl to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package.
The poet, in his tweet earlier this month, asked if the economic package had something for poor people like the girl in the image.
Netizens even found fault in an image of a long parade of buses shared by an NDTV India journalist as vehicles arranged for migrants by the Congress.
The vehicles in the image were actually arranged by the Uttar Pradesh government in February last year for Kumbh Mela visitors, a user pointed out.
The rush to share images on social media also appeared to have caught Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala off guard.
Surjewala tried to pass a photo of a woman who had an infant wrapped on her back and a sack tugged on the backseat of a bicycle that she rode as "New India's truth" in a tweet this week.
But fact checkers found that it was an old photo from Nepal which had nothing to do with India.
Images with misleading captions have been part of social media for quite some time and everytime a crisis hits the country, they appear to spread even faster.
( 492 Words)