A photograph of a group of people sitting at a kiosk with a board that reads "No road on Indo-China border" is being widely shared on social media platforms, where users are expressing their contempt for an NGO called Citizens for Green Doon in Uttarakhand.
The claim names two people from the NGO's legal team and is being criticised for holding no regard for national security and using the environment as an excuse for preventing Indian defense forces from building new roads.
Team WebQoof found that the claim was not true. While the photo being shared was edited to match the claim, news reports state that the NGO petitioned against making new roads that would boost tourism.
They also added that it would be best to bolster pre-existing roads instead of making new ones that could potentially damage the already crumbling roadways in the region.
The photograph is being shared with the claim that an NGO named "Citizens for Green Doon" petitioned against building new roads in Uttarakhand along the Indo-China border citing environmental concerns.
It also adds a quote from the NGO's two lawyers – Coulin Gonsalves and Md Aftab – who suggest that the forces use airways during war time instead.
The post was shared on Twitter by 'Kreately.in', an account that has peddled misinformation in the past.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We looked for the NGO on Google and found a public Facebook group for Citizens for Green Doon (CFGD). Here, we saw that the group's cover photo was the one used in the viral claim, indicating the it was edited. The original board reads 'Come Join CFGD'.
While looking for the NGO's contact details, we came across a post by the page's administrator Ira Chauhan, who clarified that an edited photograph was being shared on social media in an attempt to "spread lies and defame" the NGO.
The post states that the group is not against building roads, but is raising its voice in support of sustainable and scientifically constructed roads in the region, which has been seeing landslides and loss of life and property every year.
Chauhan further explains how a statement was misattributed to their counsel Colin Gonsalves, adding that the claim also creates a fictitious person named Mohd Aftab and adds a communal colour to it.
It ends stating that CFGD has reported the tweet to the Uttarakhand Cyber Crime cell and "will take strict legal action."
The Quint reached out to CFGD trustee Ira Chauhan, who informed us that the original picture was taken earlier this year.
"This picture was taken on 1st April this year. We were at a college called DAV here in Dehradun, at an awareness programme. We did it to get college students to join its to save the green cover of the city. That is where we were sitting with our placard reading 'Come Join CFGD'. Some miscreants picked the photo up from our Facebook group and morphed the board."CFGD Trustee Ira Chauhan
They then added that CFGD had reported the post to Twitter, who took down the handle.
What has the CFGD opposed?
The NGO had moved the Supreme Court after the Centre announced that roads which were a part of the Char Dham Highway Network also acted as feeder roads leading to the Indo-China border would be made as wide as 7 metres, as per a report by The Hindu.
Citing the delicate environment of the area, CFGD asked the apex court to reconsider its order that allowed roads wider than 5.5 metres to be constructed, which was mandated in a 2018 circular by the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways.
In its report, The Quint noted that the court then questioned if it could override the country's defense needs for environmental concerns or "should the court have a more nuanced approach?"
Clearly, a morphed photo of an NGO's appeal to join them was shared across social media claiming that they opposed building roads for defense use in Uttarakhand.