New Delhi: While the BJP and its affiliates have maintained a stoic silence on the ruckus created by the Shree Rajput Karni Sena over the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, its social media warriors are already working overtime to twist the narrative.
On Thursday, a rumour claiming that five Muslim men have been arrested by the Gurugram police in relation to the recent attack on a school bus by the Karni Sena members went viral on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. Writing in Altnews.in, Pratik Sinha identified a Sangh parivar activist as one of those who began circulating the rumour:
“राजपूतों का नाम बदनाम करने वालों माफ़ी मांगो (people maligning Rajputs must apologise),” Shalini Kapoor, a member of BJP’s youth wing wrote on Facebook. She also claimed that men named Saddam, Nadim, Firoz, Aamir and Ashraf have been arrested by the police.
Eighteen people were arrested by the Gurugram police on Thursday after a bus carrying school children was attacked by a group of protestors. The attackers threw stones at the bus, smashing its windows. The police issued a statement on Friday to clarify that none of the detained individuals are Muslims after the news went viral.
This is to clarify that no Muslims boys have been detained in relation to the recent acts of vandalism on a Haryana Roadways bus and a School bus in Gurugram: Gurugram Police pic.twitter.com/EnP6BuCfwF
— ANI (@ANI) January 26, 2018
Madhu Kishwar, writer and a vocal supporter of PM Narendra Modi, too, fell for the hoax and tweeted:
She later deleted the tweet and apologised after getting called out on social media but the damage had already been done. Her original tweet was retweeted by thousands.
Dainik Bharat, a right-wing propaganda website known for spreading fake news, also carried an article with a video of the bus driver claiming that “Karni Sena didn’t attack the bus and Hindus actually saved the kids“.
Unsurprisingly, even the video used by the website as the basis of their fake news article doesn’t support their claim.
In the video, the driver of the school bus attacked by the Karni Sena goons can be seen narrating his ordeal to news channel Aaj Tak.
In July 2017, when a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims was attacked by terrorists, Dainik Bharat ran a series of bizarre articles claiming that the Muslim driver of the bus, who was lauded for his bravery and saved many lives, was actually one of the suspects.
Uncomfortable with the idea of a Muslim man saving Hindu lives, one of their reports claimed that the bus owner’s son was driving at the time of the attack. This fake news story was also carried by India.com, owned by right-leaning independent MP Subhash Chandra’s media group.
Meanwhile, some of the most-followed Twitter handles that shared the fake news of the arrest are followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the past, many followed by Modi have been called out for spreading fake news and issuing death and rape threats to women and journalists.
After journalist Gauri Lankesh was brutally murdered last year, many of them not only applauded the gruesome act but also justified her killing. When slammed by Twitterati for following such miscreants, BJP’s IT Cell head and one of the pioneers of the fake news industry, Amit Malviya, issued a statement claiming that the PM following someone is not a character certificate.
Wondering what our prime minister’s Twitter timeline looks like? In February 2017, The Wire‘s editor-at-large Raghu Karnad conducted an experiment by following the same accounts as Narendra Modi and found out that the PM’s personal Twitter feed is filled with rancour and distortion.
To their credit, many vocal right-wing supporters of the BJP have also called out the Karni Sena.