(Editor's Note: The story was first published on 13 May 2020 and is being republished from The Quint's archives in the light of the image recirculating with a claim that Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao will be distributing these packets for Ramadan.)
As India continues fighting the coronavirus pandemic, misinformation aimed at fanning communal tensions is gaining ground with each passing day. In one such case, an image showing a gift packet is being shared on social media to insinuate that the Telangana government is distributing gifts among Muslims while no festivities are being allowed for Hindus and other religious communities.
Not only is the image old, the fact that the Telangana government distributed gifts during Ramzan is also untrue.
According to the claim Government of Telangana is distributing special gift among Muslims during Ramzan.
“तेलंगाना सरकार मुसलमानों को रमज़ान कि स्पेशल किट फ्रि में दे रही है। हिन्दू के त्यौहार रामनवमी,हनुमान जयंती,उगादि पर घर से भी बाहर निकलना मना था,” the claim reads. [Translation: Telangana government is distributing special gifts during Ramzan. On Hindu festivals such as Ramnavami and Hanuman Jayanti people were prohibitted from going out.]
To make the claim look authentic, the image of a gift packet with ‘Eid Mubarak’, ‘Ramzan Gift’ and ‘Government of Telangana’ written on it is being shared along with the text.
Among those who shared the claim was Suresh Chavhanke, the Editor-in-Chief of Sudarshan News.
WHAT WE FOUND
We divided the claim into three parts:
- Were gifts distributed by the Telangana government during Ramzan this year?
- Is the picture shared along with the claim authentic?
- Does the government distribute gifts only during Ramzan?
A Google search using the keywords “Government of Telangana Ramzan Gift” directed us to news reports which hinted that the image used along with the claim is as old as 2015.
While we cannot ascertain when the photograph was taken, the fact that it was uploaded in 2015 makes it evident that it has been in circulation in the past.
Next, we found a tweet by Krishank Manne, a leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti. The tweet carried a clip from a press briefing where Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao can be heard saying that this year Ramzan gifts won’t be distributed.
To confirm, we reached out to Telangana Police officials who corroborated the fact that no gifts were distributed this year due to COVID outbreak.
Further, a keyword search using “Telangana Government distributes gifts on festivals” led us to news reports suggesting similar gifts being given to mark other festivals like Christmas and Bhatukamma.
Clearly, an old image was used to propagate a false claim that the Telangana government is providing gifts for Muslims during Ramzan.
This is not the first time that Sudarshan News Editor, Suresh Chavhanke has been caught spreading misinformation. The Quint has debunked multiple claims made by him in the past.
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