‘I Still Receive Threats’: The Real Fallout of Fake News in 2019
The Quint spoke to the people who had been targeted for fake news to understand the impact it had on their lives.
Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
From Pulwama terror attack to nationwide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 saw a barrage of misinformation/disinformation along with the regular news cycle.
The Quint spoke to some of the people who became the target of fake news and how these events impacted their lives.
JNU Student Pankaj Mishra, Misidentified as Moinuddin
Raising a question about the way he was targeted, Pankaj Mishra said that this is an agenda to spread communal hatred in the society.
“Why did they identify me as Moinuddin only? I could have been identified as something else too. I could have been identified as a Christian, in Hinduism also there are many castes. But why did they identify me as a Muslim only?”asks Pankaj.
He also described the impact it had on his family and his friends.
“My family was completely disturbed. They used to constantly call me to check on me. I used to receive 20-30 calls per day from my friends,” Mishra told The Quint.
Shilpi Afreen Was Falsely Targeted for Heckling BJP MP Babul Supriyo
Shilpi Afreen, a post-graduate student at Jadavpur University in Kolkata was subjected to harassment and trolling on social media after her Facebook display picture was falsely circulated as that of a female student confronting Union Minister of State (MoS) for Forests, Environment and Climate Change, Babul Supriyo on their campus in September, 2019.
Supriyo, was in the varsity to attend a fresher’s welcome party organised by ABVP, but he was stopped from entering by members of the Students Federation of India (SFI).
Recalling the incident, Afreen said that she had to deactivate her Facebook account because of the kinds of posts she was receiving. She also said she couldn’t step out of her house for a month because of this incident.
“I received rape threats and death threats. There were some comments that I couldn’t even read. My parents were worried about me.”Shilpi Afree, Student at Jadavapur University
Media Misreported Bengaluru RTO Officer’s Medical Condition as Drunk Driving
In September, several media outlets misreported that Regional Transport Office (RTO) inspector of Bengaluru was drunk when he crashed his car into an auto-rickshaw.
But, the inspector was under medication and on the day of the incident, he felt his blood pressure lowering, eventually losing control of his car.
Manjunath died on 13 September due to cardiac arrest.
K Shailashree, Manjunath’s wife, wanted her husband to see the correct coverage of the accident, so that he could feel better about not having done any wrong.
Responding to the media coverage, Shailashree says, “TV channels shouldn’t do that. They shouldn’t show fake news. They should have reached the spot, confirmed what is true and what’s not, and then aired the correct information.”
Paribaha Mukherjee Was ‘Declared Dead’ by the Fake News Factory
On the night of 10 June, two junior doctors were allegedly assaulted at NRS Medical College by the relatives of a deceased patient. The relatives accused the junior doctors of negligence and roughed them up.
A message was then circulated which claimed that Paribaha Mukherjee, one of the junior doctors, who was beaten, had passed away.
Several news channels had then approached him to confirm if he was alive and if there is any “communal angle to it.”
“How will you feel if people keep asking you if you are alive or not?” questions Paribaha.
But the fake news didn’t diminish his confidence, rather he decided to stay motivated.
“This is one reason why people know me, now I will become such a big doctor that people will have another reason to know me. People will say that Dr Paribaha is not that person who was beaten but he is actually a big doctor,” he signs off.
Liyaqat Ali Was Roughed Up on Suspicion of Child Kidnapping
Alarming incidents of mobs attacking people based on false rumours of child-lifting were reportedly on the rise in 2019.
In one of the incidents, as many as five Muslims, including an eight-year-old boy, were thrashed by a mob in Bihar’s Gaya that attacked them over suspicion of being child lifters in August.
Liyaqat shares how the incident has traumatised his family members.
“My family members are traumatised. I cannot see a crowd anymore. Even if a group of schoolchildren are going, I can’t tolerate them. That’s the situation now. I am terrified. I can’t go out of the house now. I can’t help being scared,” Liyaqat told The Quint.
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