On 16 April an incident of mob lynching took place in Gadchinchle village of Maharashtra’s Palghar district. Three men from Mumbai on their way to Surat, were dragged out of a car and beaten to death by villagers on suspicion of theft. The incident which led to a flare-up in the state’s politics also triggered a series of fake news and misinformation on social media.
In one such case that has come to light, multiple users on Facebook are suggesting names of two individuals – Pradip Prabhu and Shiraz Balsara, affiliated with an organisation called Kashtakari Sangathana – as people supporting the attackers. To add credibility to the claim, a picture of a couple identifying them as the duo is being circulated.
The post is being widely circulated on Twitter with the same claim.
TRUE OR FALSE?
The Quint can confirm that there is no truth to the claim and the two people who can be seen in the picture are not Pradip Prabhu and Shiraz Balsara, but KP Jaishankar and Anjali Monteiro – well known documentary filmmakers and professors of media and communications at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
WHAT WE FOUND
We needed answers to three questions to debunk the claim.
- Who are Pradeep Prabhu and Shiraz Balsara?
- What is the Kashtakari Sanghatana and is the organisation working to get bail for the accused in Palghar case?
- Who are the people in the picture which is being circulated with the post?
First, a Google keyword search using “Kashtakari Sanghatana” led us to several reports which suggested that it is an organisation working for rights of Adivasis in Palghar. Further, we reached out to Palghar SP, Gaurav Singh who confirmed that there is no involvement of the organisation in seeking bail for the accused in the lynching case.
We also spoke to an activist who is associated with the organisation for over 25 years. who confirmed that the organisation is not involved in the case or bail plea for the accused in any way.
We were also able to identify the people in the photograph as Professor KP Jaishankar and Anjali Monteiro from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and reached out to them to understand what exactly the matter was.
“We were alerted about this post by a Facebook friend who chanced upon this troll page. We were quite horrified after looking at this because it clearly exposed us to a lot of danger,” Professor Monteiro said.
They also told us that the post was immediately reported to Facebook after which the post was taken down and one particular account was deactivated.
Expressing his concerns about the post, Professor Jaishankar said, “By the time we saw the post, it already had a couple of hundred likes and shares. Those posts are still there and we’ve written to Facebook again requesting them to look into the matter.”
‘NEED EFFICIENT MECHANISM TO COUNTER HATE SPEECH’
Speaking to The Quint, Professor Monteiro and Professor Jaishankar both emphasised on the need to have an efficient mechanism to counter hate speech on social media.
“This is something that happened with us, but the problem is not new and many others have faced the same. I am not an advocate of censorship, but this points to the difficulties in dealing with such threats on social media,” says Professor Anjali Monteiro.
“I believe that people have the right to say what they want to but that shouldn’t be in violation of other laws of land.”K.P Jaishankar, Professor at Tata Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Evidently, an unrelated picture of two professors is being shared to falsely claim that the two professors are associated with the Congress and are helping the accused in the Palghar lynching case.
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