New Delhi: A day after uploading on its official website a broader report on spotting fake news that mentioned the audio clip of the Tablighi Jamaat chief (where he is purportedly heard asking people not to follow social distancing norms) in the context of fake audio, the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) has abruptly removed it.
This comes a day after a news report by The Indian Express which said that the Delhi Police Crime Branch has found that an audio clip in which the TJ chief, Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, could be heard asking Tablighi Jamaat members not to follow social distancing norms and prohibitory orders, may have been “doctored” and stitched together using several audio files.
Terming the report “factually incorrect,” the Delhi Police had said,” The report seems to be based on wholly unverified sources and purely conjectural imagination”.
The Delhi Police has also sent a summons notice to the paper‘s city editor and chief reporter, requiring the reporter of the piece to join the investigation on Monday or face legal action.
In the BPR&D’s 40-page report titled ‘Guide for Law Enforcement Agencies’, a mention to the Tablighi Jamaat chief’s audio appeared on page number 10 under the sub-heading, “Fake news and disinformation vectors.”
According to Indian Express, a paragraph in the report reads:
“Fake/Viral Audios: In the present scenario, viral/fake newsmongers may create voice content and spread it across the social networking channels.”
This is followed by a screenshot with the partially masked words:
“T… Jama… Leaked Audio on Covid 19 Lockdown,” and the caption, “A voice clip of religious leader who violated lockdown rules that went viral.”
The report also referred to various “fake news” items spreading against the minorities, including a video of people licking plates and spoons and another showing people acting as Muslims to discourage those in the community from following COVID-19
However, BPR&D spokesperson Jitendra Yadav said the report is undergoing corrections and would be uploaded again.
“There are many examples given in the booklet. I cannot comment on what examples have been given for fake audio clips and videos. These are all done by a committee. It is the committee which does these enquiries. It has technical people who find out which is a fake video or audio. Only they (the committee) can say what it is. Right now there are some corrections being carried out in the report,” he told The Indian Express.
The BPR&D also included UPI IDs shared to solicit donations to the PM-CARES Fund, a Ministry of Health order on PPE kit specifications and a Telangana government order on opening of liquor shops on March 28 under “fake news.”
The report also asked the law enforcement agencies to not let their own beliefs interfere. “Watch out for information that confirms your pre-existing beliefs. Review facts before sharing the information. Stories that seem hard to believe are often untrue,” the report reads.
Guidelines on forensically investigating fake news so as to make it admissible as evidence in court proceedings and use of tools, such as reverse image search, geo tagging and geo fencing, and other methods were also listed.