WebQoof Recap: Of Maneka’s Kerala Claim & ‘Free’ COVID Treatment

Here’s a quick round-up of the WhatsApp forwards and fake tweets that misled the public this week.

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WebQoof Recap: Of Maneka’s Kerala Claim & ‘Free’ COVID Treatment

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From Maneka Gandhi’s claim about 600 elephants being killed every year in Kerala to an image of an India TV bulletin, which claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that one crore coronavirus patients in India have been treated for free, this week saw a barrage of misinformation on social media.

Here's a quick round-up of the fake forwards that misled the public this week.


1. 600 Elephants Killed Yearly in Kerala? Maneka’s Claim Defies Data

Speaking to news agency ANI, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi claimed that 'over 600 elephants are killed in Kerala every year'. She also called Kerala's Malappuram "India's most violent district."

But this claim by her falls flat on its face on the basis of information provided by ministers from her own party as well as government data over the years.

According to the data we found from February 2019, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), in response to a question in Lok Sabha, said between 2015-2019 (up to 31 December 2018), there have been a total of 373 elephant deaths in total across India.

The year-wise data shows that 2015-16 saw 104 elephant deaths, 2016-17 saw 89 deaths, while there were 105 and 75 deaths in 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively.

Data presented by Dr Mahesh Sharma, MoS (MoEF) in Lok Sabha in February 2019.
(Graphic: The Quint)

Data presented by Babul Supriyo, MoS (MoEF) in the Rajya Sabha on 10 February 2020, also seemed to more or less match Dr Sharma’s numbers, giving rise to the question of how 600 elephant deaths could be possible in a year in Kerala alone if data from the Centre shows that the total number of deaths across India did not cross 150 in any year over the last four years.

Read the full story here.


2. FIT-WebQoof: Has Italy Found the ‘Remedy’ for COVID-19?

A post doing the rounds on social media claims that Italy may have found a remedy for treating COVID-19. It also makes several assertions about the novel coronavirus's nature, what it does to a patient's body, and how it is being treated by doctors today.

One of the claims the viral message makes is that Italian doctors have found that it is not a virus, but a bacteria that causes death.

It is a known fact, however, that COVID-19 disease is caused by a novel coronavirus (belonging to a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals and humans), first encountered in China’s Wuhan in December 2019; and this has been reiterated time and again by leading health organisations and government advisories.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.”

Even the Italian Ministry of Health has explained in its FAQ, “A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus never previously identified in humans.”

While some COVID-19 patients may develop a secondary bacterial infection, the primary pathogen that infects them and causes the illness in the first place is always SARS-CoV-2, which is a virus.

Read the full story here.


3. One Crore COVID-19 Patients Given Free Treatment? PM Didn’t Say That

An image of an India TV bulletin is being circulated with the claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme on Sunday, 31 May, mentioned that one crore coronavirus patients in India have been treated for free.

You can view the archived version here.
(Source: Twitter/ Screenshot)

Several Twitter users took a dig at the prime minister by comparing the figure mentioned in the viral image and the total numbers of COVID-19 cases in India.

We established that the viral image is from Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address aired on Sunday, 31 May. Two clues that helped us establish this were the time stamp in the bulletin, ie, Sunday, 11:24 am and that India TV uploaded bulletin on the same day in which the channel used the same image of Modi as seen in the viral graphic.

We then found an apology which was issued by the news channel, wherein it stated that due to a “human error”, it was erroneously reported that as many as one crore Indians have been treated with coronavirus.

Read the full story here.


4. Jharkhand Image Goes Viral As ‘Ram & Sita Idols Found in Ayodhya’

Many users on social media are sharing an image with the claim that it shows idols of Ram and Sita recovered from the temple site in Ayodhya.

The image is being circulated on Facebook with a claim that says, “Ayodhya Mein Khudai karte samay Ram Lakshman Janki Jay bolo Hanuman ki Murti pagae jai shree ram.

[Translation: Ram, Laxman and Sita idols were found during excavation in Ayodhya. All hail lord Ram and lord Hanuman.]

An archived version of the Tweet can be accessed here.
(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

However, a Google reverse image search directed us to an article by a website called The Analyst which carried the viral photo. The article stated that idols of Ram, Laxman and Sita were found in a village in Jharkhand’s Khunti district.

Taking a cue from here, we carried out a Google search using keywords “Ram and Sita Idols found in Jharkhand” and found a news report detailing the incident.

Therefore, it is clear that an old image from Jilinga village in Jharkhand is being used to claim that it shows the idols of Ram and Sita recovered from the temple site in Ayodhya.

Read the full story here.


5. No, This Video Doesn’t Show George Floyd Protesters at White House

Several social media users are sharing a video with the claim that it shows protesters storming the White House in Washington DC amid the protests against the death of an African-American man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis.

The claim shared along with the video reads: “The president escapes the White House for the first time in the US.”

An archived version of the post can be accessed here.
(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

However, a careful look at the viral video helped us rule out the fact that it shows the White House building. Further, a reverse image search helped us find out that the building in the viral video is the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

Next, we carried out a keyword search, which led us to several news reports carrying details of the incident.

According to a report by Newsweek, “The Ohio Statehouse had multiple windows smashed and American flags burned Thursday, 28 May, by crowds of people protesting the death of George Floyd.”

Therefore, it is clear that a video of protesters demonstrating outside the Ohio Statehouse is being used to insinuate that it shows protesters storming inside the White House following which the president was forced to take refuge in an underground bunker.

Read the full story here.


(You can read all our coronavirus related fact-checked stories 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 and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Maneka Gandhi   PM Modi   Webqoof 

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