Fake Accounts Posing as Army Men Emerge Online Amid Tension in J&K
We checked the details of the Twitter handle and found that the account had been created on 16 August.
Soon after the Modi-led government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, social media was abuzz with misinformation about the erstwhile state.
Social media users shared videos and images with false narratives and even created fake accounts to disseminate misinformation.
One such example is an account that goes by the name ‘@Archeie65’. The user claims to be a part of the Indian Army and posted his resignation on Twitter on 16 August, citing the heightened tension in Kashmir as the reason for the same.
The tweet further claimed that on the previous night, that of 15 August, Pakistan had allegedly killed 25 jawans from his Unit and the incident was not reported by the media.
The archived version of the tweet can be viewed here.
BUT HOW CREDIBLE IS THE ACCOUNT?
Using Tweetbeaver, an application that can be used to analyse Twitter handles, we checked the details of the Twitter handle in question and found that the account was created on 16 August.
We also checked the details of another account with had the same username and which many people on Twitter had pointed was the real account of ‘Col Vijay Acharya’.
On ascertaining the details, we figured out that the account had been created on 6 March 2019 from Jaipur
Speaking to Zee News, Colonel Vijay Acharya confirmed that his account had indeed been ‘cloned’ on 16 August and the tweet on his resignation was irrelevant as he retired from the Indian Army in March.
He is now based out of Jaipur in Rajasthan.
FAKE PAKISTAN ACCOUNT
A similar resignation was posted from another fake account, but this time it was a Pakistani account. A tweet by a user called ‘Lt Asimuddin Jamal’ posted his resignation from 100 rangers of his battalion.
The message was similar to the one posted on Acharya’s fake account. However, on scrolling through the comments on his profile, we found the profile to be fake.
The picture which has been used is that of General Asim Bajwa, who is the former director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Army.
ACHARYA’S ACCOUNT NOT THE ONLY TO HAVE BEEN CLONED
On Monday, 19 August, retired Indian Army officer Major Gaurav Arya also claimed that a fake account was created in his name. The Twitter handle of the same is @Majorgauravary1 which has now been suspended by Twitter.
INSTANCES OF PAK MINISTERS AND JOURNALISTS SPREADING FAKE NEWS
- On Sunday, 18 August, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi shared a video with his over 7,66,200 followers on Sunday, claiming it to be from Kashmir. The caption shared along with the video read: “Let the world see what Narendra Modi Government is doing in #Kashmir. The #Hitler from the East rises while the world sleeps.” The video is actually a combination of two old videos: one is from Haryana and the other is from Telangana.
- On 9 August, Zaidi had tweeted a video with the claim that several people in Kashmir protested against the Modi-led government for its decision on Article 370. It was actually an old video from senior Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani’s funeral procession.
- On 17 August, Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist shared a video with his 5.9 million followers on Twitter claiming it to be from Jammu and Kashmir. Mir had alleged that they were the latest visuals from J&K where the ‘Indian Army has used four detained Kashmiri boys as human shield to defeat some stone pelters.’ This incident, too, was old.
- On 4 August, Pakistan-based journalist Ameer Abbas shared a set of images and claimed that the Indian Army was killing ‘innocent and unarmed Kashmiris.’ However, both the images were old.
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