Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims

The Quint‘s WebQoof team had debunked at least 35 fake news stories in the months of August and September 2019.

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WebQoof
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Abrogation of Article 370 led to a barrage of misinformation on social media.
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On 5 August 2019, the BJP-led NDA government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divided the erstwhile state into two union territories. What followed was a barrage of misinformation.

From political leaders, news anchors to users on social media, fake claims and unverified news was circulated on various platforms. A year on, here's a look at some recurring misinformation that refuses to die down even today.

1. Did Ambedkar Oppose Article 370? No Official Records Back it

From Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu to Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, leaders peddled the same narrative – BR Ambedkar was against the inclusion of Article 370.

But a closer look at his views at the time don't align with what these leaders had claimed.

Ambedkar's well-documented speeches, writings and parliamentary debates, which are available on the Ministry of External Affairs' website, make it evident that he sought a quick solution for the Kashmir issue and had, in fact, advocated a plebiscite.

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)

Ambedkar even said that partition was the right solution for Kashmir!

And the closest we get to understanding Ambedkar’s views on Article 370 is through what he had said during a debate on Representation of People’s Bill in the Parliament in 1950.

Referring to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Ambedkar said, “Parliament has no room to make any provision with regard to the representation of Kashmir.” He had also mentioned that the J&K government is supreme.

While none of the government documents hold any record of Ambedkar opposing Article 370, what is the genesis of this claim? Read here to find out.

2. Was Sardar Patel as Opposed to Article 370 as Claimed?

Another recurring claim pertains to the involvement of Sardar Patel in the Kashmir issue.

Home Minister Amit Shah said that the issue of Kashmir should have been handled by Sardar Patel instead of former PM Jawaharlal Nehru, implying that Patel had no hand in the implementation of Article 370.

But do his claims have any factual basis? What is the truth?

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)

Srinath Raghavan, a Professor of International Relations and History at Ashoka University in a 2018 article for The Print, wrote that the notion that Nehru was the sole decision-maker about Kashmir's status is wrong.

According to him, declassified documents, including records of cabinet and defence committee meetings, show clearly that both Nehru and Patel were closely involved in handling all three states – Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad.

Moreover, when Sheikh Abdullah insisted that Article 370 should leave it to J&K's constituent assembly to decide whether to adopt the fundamental rights and directive principles or not, Patel was the one who permitted NG Ayyangar to proceed with it because Nehru was abroad.

You can read the full story here.

3. Was Article 35A Temporary?

Days before Article 370 was abrogated, senior journalist and the Managing Director of Republic TV Arnab Goswami hosted a prime time debate arguing “Article 35A was a temporary provision” and that its abrogation wasn’t even a matter of debate.

To understand this better, one has to understand that Article 35A was inserted by the president by an order under Article 370 in 1954. This means that the parliamentary route was bypassed.

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)

However, speaking to The Quint, author Ashok Pandey said:

“Article 35A was never a temporary provision. Article 370 was but that was also first passed by the Constituent Assembly of India and then ratified by Assembly of Kashmir and is no longer temporary, J&K High Court has accepted it as a permanent part of our Constitution.”

You can read the full story here.

While these are some recurring claims, let’s also take a look at a few extremely viral videos and content which were circulated across social media platforms last year.

4. Ex-ISI Chief’s Son Passes Off Old Clip as Recent Violence in J&K

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)

Abdullah Gul, son of the former chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), shared a video on 10 August 2019, claiming that it showed violence in Kashmir. The video was circulated widely on the internet.

But it turned out to be an old video from October 2018 when civilians were killed in Kulgam in an encounter between militants and security forces.

You can read the full story here.

5. Rumour of Yasin Malik’s Death Attributed to BBC Urdu Is False

Another piece of misinformation which was bound to have severe repercussions both locally and internationally, was a rumour pertaining to the death of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik.

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)

A video uploaded by a YouTube user claimed that Malik had been killed in an Indian jail. The information was attributed to BBC. But the news organisation had then informed that they had not reported about the death of Yasin Malik.

You can read the full story here.

6. 10-Year-Old Video From Pak Shared as Indian Army’s Brutality in J&K

A month after effective revocation of Article 370, a video showing men in uniform brutally thrashing civilians was shared with a claim that it is from Jammu and Kashmir and showed “Indian Army’s brutality against the Muslims”.

But this video also turned out to be old and from Pakistan.

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)

It purportedly shows Pakistan Army beating detainees in a rural police station for their alleged extremist links.

You can read the full story here.

7. NHM Employees’ Protest Video Falsely Shared as Article 370 Unrest

A video uploaded on 11 August 2019, by ‘The Live TV’ on YouTube claimed that several people protested in Kashmir against the abrogation of Article 370.

However, we found old videos from February 2019 and images uploaded by Alamy that indicated that the viral video actually showed a protest by the employees of National Health Mission.

The said employees had protested in February 2019 against the government demanding equal pay for equal work among other things.

You can read the full story here.

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)

Though there were reports of unrest and violence in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, a flurry of visuals used on the internet didn’t depict the current situation.

8. Akhilesh Held for Protest Over Article 370? No, It’s an Old Video

A video of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav being heckled by police personnel had gone viral in August 2019. The claim along the video was that he was arrested for protesting against Article 370 being effectively revoked in Jammu and Kashmir.

We found that the video dates back to 2011.

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)
It is from Lucknow and it shows Yadav being arrested on the last day of Samajwadi Party’s state-wide agitation against the then-in-power Mayawati government.

You can read the full story here.

9. Central Govt Took Custody of Kashmir Mosques?

A set of images were circulating with the claim that the central government had taken custody of all the mosques in Kashmir.

Article 370 and Misinformation: A Look at Viral Posts, Fake Claims
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/ The Quint)
However, we found that while the images are real, none are from Jammu and Kashmir and they do not show the central government taking control of the mosques.

You can read the full story here.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on Whatsapp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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