Video Editor: Vishal Kumar
How did fake news on JNU’s student protests turn a 30-year-old Pankaj Mishra from UP into a 47-year-old Moinuddin from Kerala?
As JNU students continue to protest against the new hostel manual, protesters are increasingly being targeted by the fake news factory. Images of many protesters have been circulated on social media with misleading claims.
In one such case, the image of 30-year-old Pankaj Mishra was doing the rounds with the false claim that the man in question is 47-year-old Moinuddin, a JNU student from Kerala. The claim added that he’d been studying at JNU since 1989 ie, for 30 years.
However, Pankaj is from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh and not from Kerala, and took admission in JNU this year. He is currently pursuing MPhil in Social Medicine & Community Health.
Speaking to The Quint, he said, “The photo has been retweeted by BJP leaders, RSS thinkers in an attempt to tarnish my image. It’s an attack on an individual.”
FAKE NEWS’ EFFECT ON PANKAJ AND HIS FAMILY
Pankaj further described how his parents have been worried since the time he has become a victim of fake news.
“My parents have not been able to eat food. They are worried about what's happening, why it's happening and why I am being vilified. My friends have called me 20-30 times to ask me if I'm okay. I have been depressed for the last 2-3 days,” he said.
Being trolled on social media is not his only concern at present. He fears he may get into trouble for “protesting against the government”.
“You have identified me as 47-year-old Moinuddin... Tomorrow if I am simply roaming around, somebody might just thrash me saying I’m a JNU student who’s protesting against the government. That’s not what we’re doing. Protesting against the country and against the government are two very different things.”Pankaj Mishra, JNU student
Pankaj has a message for all the fake news peddlers:
“You can encircle a photo and write something to go with it. It might not affect you but what its impact will be on an individual and their family should be kept in mind.”
BUT, IS HE THE ONLY VICTIM?
A viral picture of a girl was widely circulated on Facebook with the claim that she is a 43-year-old student at JNU. The claim further reads that her daughter is also a student in the same university.
The girl in the image is actually Sambhavi Siddhi, a 23-year-old student, pursuing her Masters in French from JNU.
Speaking to The Quint, she said, “The footage which is being circulated is three days old. We were protesting against the fee hike and that is when some media persons approached us and this footage was captured.”
Another image that was shared on social media shows an elderly woman and claims that she is “a final year student” currently enrolled at the university. The claim further mocks at the lady for her age, adding that she has been “arrested”.
The Quint could confirm that the woman shown in the image is not a current JNU student but CPI leader and activist Annie Raja.
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