Fake News Being Used to Incite Anger Against Rohingyas in India
Myanmar’s threatened minority – the Rohingya Muslims – face as much threat in India as they do in their homeland where the government wants to persecute them. In India, targeted fake news accusing Rohingyas of violent events is spreading like wildfire.
Other than the 123,000 Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh in fear, there’s are an estimated population of 40,000 of the stateless community who now live in India.
At a time when the Indian government wants to deport them back to Myanmar, some Twitter accounts have been sharing four images taken from different sources, each from a different event claiming the Rohingyas persecuted Hindus in Rakhine.
Sai Deepak J, a laywer and Twitter user from India with a following of 3,816, retweeted Shing Panyuar Dhiph, an account holder from Myanmar who calls himself a “political and reporter” in the country.
The tweet reads, “Many Hindus were killed by #Rohingya Islamic Terrorists and burned their homes, destroyed Hindus Temples in Rakhine,#Myanmar. (sic)”
On further search three of those images appear to be from Bangladesh and only one from Rakhine.
The first image, which is of a defaced Hindu idol has a blurred caption. At a closer look, the caption reads in Bengali, “Jhalokathi’s Hindu family attacked, temple’s idols defaced by Jubo League leader and his supporters.”
A quick search on google will show that Jhalokathi is a district in south-western Bangladesh, and that the Bangladeshi Swami Jubo League is commonly known as the Jubo league.
The source of the photo cannot be traced to any news report, but in a post from 2014, on a blog for Hindus in Bangladesh called Hindu Samhati Global Media.
The second image first appeared on ‘Ekhon’, a lesser known news website from Bangladesh. The said image appeared on a report on 22 November 2016, about the killings of Rohingyas in Rakhine, unlike what the original tweet says.
The third photo was also traced back to 2016, in a report from the Fatikchari region of Chittagong in Bangladesh in a Bengali new website called Eibela. Fatikchari and Rakhine, as we know, are thousands of kilometers apart, hence cannot be confused with each other.
The report is on an 18-year-old Hindu boy who was murdered on his way back home.
And finally, the last photo of a Hindu woman crying on the site of her house that was set ablaze by miscreants is from Nilfamari, also in Bangladesh. Three people were arrested after the incident. A report from the incident that took place in 2014, can be read at Kaler Kontho — a Bangladeshi news website.
The fake news shared from Sai Deepak J’s twitter account was retweeted 197 times. In fact, there are a number of anti-Rohingya and anti-Islamic posts supported by fake news, that has been tweeted from this account.
Additionally, the account has retweeted fake news from other accounts that post unverified news regularly, creating a web of vengeful reports against certain communities.
Take the case of a retweet from KashmiriPandits News that claims “Islamic Rohingya Terrorist burned down many #Buddhist Temples in Burma. (sic)”
Muslims had indeed torched at least four Buddhist shrines, but in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazaar. The three photos were published by Reuters in 2012, in a report that stated that “Muslims took to the streets in the area late on Saturday to protest against what they said was a photograph posted on Facebook that insulted Islam.”
The “insulting” photo was allegedly posted by a Buddhist, hence a group of protesters “marched to Buddhist villages and set fire to temples and houses.”
Far from what the tweets suggest, it appears Rohingyas are not the only ones fleeing Myanmar. A PTI report from 4 September 2017 stated that around 500 Hindus have fled the troubled region to Bangladesh’s Cox Bazaar.
Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad's General Secretary, Advocate Rana Das Gupta, said that the Hindu refugees from Myanmar claimed that there was “86 Hindus among the dead in Rakhine.”
(#TalkingStalking: Have you ever been stalked? Share your experience with The Quint and inspire others to shatter the silence surrounding stalking. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp @ +919999008335.)
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.