Beware: Fake News Fever in Karnataka as Assembly Polls Approach

It’s election time in Karnataka, and social media is flooded with fake news. This time, it’s “jihadi murderers”.

Updated
WebQoof
4 min read

Video editor: Purnendu Pritam
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya

It’s election time in Karnataka, which means social media is flooded with fake news. So here we are busting some of the big fake news stories this election.

The Claim of “Jihadi Murders”

In July 2017, BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje had written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Her letter claimed that 23 Hindu activists had been killed by jihadi elements in over 4 years in Karnataka. Karandlaje claimed that the Congress government in Karnataka was creating a communal divide in the state.

Further, BJP's Karnataka chief BS Yeddyurappa asked for an NIA probe into these deaths.

BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje’s letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje’s letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
(Photo: The Quint)

Well, turns out, BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje’s claim was inaccurate.

Anna Isaac, Deputy News Editor at The News Minute, explains how the fake news was busted.

An investigation by several media outlets found out that out of the 23 people that Shobha Karandlaje claimed were killed by jihadi elements, one person was still found to be alive and two people had committed suicide. Karandlaje was essentially targeting PFI (Popular Front of India) and other Muslim groups. But it turns out that PFI was not responsible for many of those deaths.
Anna Isaac, Deputy News Editor, The News Minute

Question Your Intelligence

In April, after Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said he would contest from the Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysuru, an “intelligence report” emerged saying that he should not contest from there as he would lose.

This “intelligence report” basically says that Siddaramaiah would lose because the Vokkaliga community backs the JD(S) candidate GT Deve Gowda.
The fake intelligence report had the signature of the fire and emergency department. 
The fake intelligence report had the signature of the fire and emergency department. 
(Photo: The Quint)
  1. Most intelligence reports in Karnataka are written in Kannada and not in English.
  2. It was signed by an ADGP Intelligence officer, but that post is currently lying vacant.
  3. There was a stamp of the Fire Department on that signature, and not the Intelligence Department!

All of this proves that the "intelligence report" was fake.

Post-Mortem Propaganda

In December 2017, Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka witnessed communal riots. During these riots, the body of a 19-yr-old boy, Paresh Mesta, was found in a lake in Honavar. His death exacerbated tensions in the town.

The BJP claimed that the 19-year-old student had been a BJP member. They further claimed that Mesta had been tortured to death by Muslim groups.

19-year-old Paresh Mesta.
19-year-old Paresh Mesta.
(Photo: ANI)
But these claims turned out to be false. His father told The News Minute that Paresh had not been a member of the BJP.

To counter the misinformation that was being spread, the police published a report by the forensic team, answering 19 questions about the 19-year-old’s death.

Anna Isaac explains, “What the report said was that Paresh Mesta's body had no external or internal injury marks of torture, thereby disproving the claims of the BJP and other groups that he had been tortured to death. However, a CBI probe has been ordered into his death.”

Post-Truth Postcard News

In March, Postcard News editor Mahesh Vikram Hegde was arrested for publishing fake news. Mahesh had put up social media posts claiming that a Jain monk had been attacked by Muslim youth.

Mahesh Vikram Hegde spreading fake news.
Mahesh Vikram Hegde spreading fake news.
(Photo: The Quint)

But in reality, there was no attack on the Jain monk. The monk had been walking on the road when he was hit by a bike, with no evidence or claim that it was driven by Muslim youths. He did suffer some injuries, but they were minor.

Following a complaint, Mahesh Hegde was arrested by the Karnataka police.

Moral of the Story: Don’t be a Webqoof!

  1. Question if the piece of "news" is true.
  2. Don't simply fall for everything that comes on WhatsApp or your inbox.
  3. Visit credible news sources.
  4. Yes, mainstream media can also fall for fake news. So, don't go to just one source. Visit a few different sources to see – "Did this news actually happen?"
  5. If you find out it's fake, go back to the WhatsApp group and share the message that the "news" shared was fake!
So this Karnataka election don’t be a bewakoof on the web – DON’T BE A WEBQOOF! And if you spot any social media posts or WhatsApp forwards that you would like us to fact-check, send it over to us at editor@thequint.com.

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