‘Might’ve Shared Fake Chat About Balakot’: Man Followed By PM Modi
In a now-deleted tweet, Shekhar Chahal had put up WhatsApp screenshots which he admits might have been fake.
Delhi-based Shekhar Chahal is a ‘nationalist’, a ‘social worker’ and a ‘proud Indian Modi-Bhakt proud to be followed by PM Modi’, if one goes by his Twitter bio.
The Quint could verify his claim of being followed by the prime minister. But why is all this important?
On Tuesday, 5 March, he shared screenshots of a supposed WhatsApp chat with a purported ‘Pakistani friend’. Chahal claimed that the chat is ‘exclusive proof’ which confirms the death of 292 terrorists in the Balakot airstrike. The tweet received significant traction, even as several people called Chahal out, saying that the chat was a botched-up one.
Around 48 hours since the tweet, he has deleted it and admitted that the chat might have been fake.
What Was Chahal’s Tweet About?
Chahal claimed that a ‘Pakistani friend’ said that 292 terrorists were killed in the Air Force strike.
The tweet has since been deleted.
In the screenshots used in the tweet, the ‘Pakistani friend’s’ name can be seen as ‘Dr Ijaj..pak’. ‘Ijaj’ is suggesting that his ammi (mother) is the Dean at the ‘Balakot Medical University’.
He says that on the day of the air strike, she received a call from the ‘army commander’ at 4.30 am and was asked to come to the hospital, following which she and other doctors declared 292 people, including five pregnant woman, dead.
‘Ijaj’ also suggests that the Army has 'sealed' the area and asked the media to report that nobody died in the air strike.
He also says that people in Pakistan ‘are fed up of terrorists’ as well as Imran Khan.
- 01/03Screenshot of the purported WhatsApp chat.(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
- 02/03Screenshot of the purported WhatsApp chat.(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
- 03/03Screenshot of the purported WhatsApp chat.(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
What Were the Loopholes in Chahal’s Tweet?
Balakot Medical College Does not Exist
To start with, the ‘Balakot Medical University’ that Chahal mentioned in the tweet and WhatsApp chat does not exist.
The Quint looked up for the landmark on Google Maps and found that the nearest medical college is the Azad Jammu Kashmir Medical College, more than 40 kilometres from Balakot.
In one of the tweets in the thread to the original tweet, Chahal provides a link as a proof that the medical college exists.
However, the link leads to a job and education consultancy portal, which nowhere mentions ‘Balakot Medical University’.
Video Game Clip Used As Proof
In another tweet in the thread, Chahal shared a video clipping claiming it to be of the air strike.
This video had earlier gone viral too, and The Quint had traced it back to a YouTube video titled ‘Really Short Engagement (ft. Taliban) - Apache Gunner FLIR Cam #6’. The clip is, in fact, extracted from a video game, Arma 2.
Admits Pictures Are Fake
In yet another tweet, after being called out by several users, Chahal apparently admitted that the pictures used by him are ‘fake’, but defends himself by saying the air strike took place nonetheless.
Use of ‘Erroneous Urdu’
A number of people replying to the tweet pointed that the Urdu used by ‘Dr Ijaj’ in the WhatsApp chat appears to be a shoddy job by someone not used to converse in the language.
An Alt News report on the tweet collates all the flaws in the Urdu used. “For instance, ‘nazdiki’ was spelt was ‘najdiki’; ‘pareshan’ was written as ‘paresan’; ‘Alhamdulillah’ was spelt as ‘Allamuddiah’; ‘tashreef’ was written as ‘tasreef’,” the report says.
The report also says that sentences like “Par ye galat hai na loc cross krna..khair allah fitrat kre” and “aur allamuddiah media bhi imran ke ishare pe chalti hai” , make no sense.
‘I Deleted the Tweet As It Might Have Been Fake,’ Admits Chahal
The Quint spoke to Chahal and asked for details of ‘Dr Ijaj’, to which he said that he does not personally know him and had received the WhatsApp screenshots from a friend named ‘Abhishek’.
“Abhishek had this conversation with his Pakistani friend, who lives in Belgium. I do not know him. After Abhishek sent me the screenshots, I put them up on Twitter,” Chahal said.
He refused to divulge further details about Abhishek.
Chahal went on to admit that the chat might be a fake one.
On being asked why he deleted the tweet, Chahal said he realised that the chat might have been a fake one.
“After I tweeted, many Pakistanis started posting similar fake WhatsApp chats using my name. I did not know that it is possible to create fake WhatsApp chats. Some of my friends then suggested that I delete the tweet,” he said.
When asked about the possible impact of the misinformation that might have spread due to his tweet, Chahal quoted Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh, where he dissed the speculation on the number of terrorists killed in the air strike.
On Wednesday, 6 March, Singh had tweeted: “Last night at 3.30 am, there were too many mosquitoes, so I used HIT (repellant). Now should I start counting how many mosquitoes I killed or should I go back to sleep?”
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