Padlocked Grave Story Confirms Yet Again India's Status as the Hub of Fake News
The story of the padlocked grave has gone viral, thanks to the mainstream Indian news media ranging from the Times of India to NDTV. The story links the image of a padlocked grave to rising necrophilia cases in Pakistan, with the claim that the image is an example of how parents lock their daughters’ graves in Pakistan in order to prevent rape. Alt News, a fact-check site run by Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, has found that the grave is in fact located in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
|Fake News in Indian Mainstream Media. Source: Alt News|
Indian news agency ANI Digital tweeted the image of the green padlocked grave with the claim. In its article titled ‘Pakistani parents lock daughters’ graves to avoid rape’, it cited a Daily Times article to report that parents in Pakistan protected their dead daughters against rape by putting padlocks on their graves. None made any attempt to verify it.
|Padlocked Grave Fake News Made Top Google Search Results For Pakistan on April 30, 2023|
The media are no longer credible and independent. Instead of going after the Indian media for spreading fake news, the Indian government is cracking down on fact-checkers like Mohammad Zubair. Last year, Zubair was arrested and jailed for months for exposing fake news published in the Indian media. “People in power want to shut me up for exposing their propaganda, their lies and their hate campaigns,” ,said in an interview with the New York Times. “They want to scare other journalists and activists by targeting me.”
Here's a fact check on the padlocked grave location in India, not in Pakistan:
In 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-hand man and home minister Amit Shah told his party's volunteers commonly known as Modi Bhakts: "We can keep making messages go viral, whether they are real or fake, sweet or sour". "Keep making messages go viral. We have already made a WhatsApp group with 32 lakh people in Uttar Pradesh; every morning they are sent a message at 8 am", Shah added, according to a report in Dainik Bhaskar, an Indian Hindi-language daily newspaper.
|Indian Fake News Peddlers Rahul Kanwal (L) and Arnab Goswami|
Amit Shah's advice has been heeded by not only BJP trolls but also many in the Indian mainstream media, including Times of India, NDTV, India Today and Republic TV.
After the 2019 aerial battle between Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force over Kashmir, India government and media claimed shooting down a Pakistani F-16. India Today TV anchor Rahul Kanwal invited Abhijit Aiyar Mitra, an Indian aviation expert, to confirm that the wreckage he was showing as evidence was that of a Pakistani F-16.
Mr. Mitra embarrassed his host on live TV by debunking the claim and correctly stating that Pakistani F-16s are equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines and what the TV host was calling a Pakistani F-16 engine was made by a different manufacturer. Watch it here:
In a recent airing of 'The Debate' on Republic World TV, host Arnab Goswami invited Indian analyst General G.D. Bakshi and PTI spokesperson Abdul Samad Yaqoob — to represent Pakistan.
Goswami to Yaqoob: "You go and check today ... on the fifth floor of the Serena Hotel, I am telling you, please check, fifth floor of the Serena Hotel in Kabul, how many Pakistani army officers are there?"
India with its massive disinformation campaign against Pakistan, as recently revealed by EU Disinfo Lab, appears to be following what a US think tank RAND calls "Firehose of Falsehood" propaganda model. It has over 750 fake media outlets covering 119 countries. There are over 750 domain names, some in the name of dead people and others using stolen identities. Pakistani policymakers charged with countering the Indian propaganda should read the RAND report "Firehose of Falsehoods" for its 5 specific recommendations to the US government to effectively respond to the Russian disinformation campaign. In particular they should heed its key advice: "All other things being equal, messages received in greater volume and from more sources will be more persuasive.......Don't expect to counter Russia's firehose of falsehood with the squirt gun of truth. Instead, put raincoats on those at whom the firehose is aimed"
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KOCHI: Amid the raging controversy over the upcoming film 'The Kerala Story'.
32K Women Missing Claim Made By 'The Kerala Story' Does Not Add Up While a teaser of the film released in November mentions the 32K figure, the trailer released last week makes no mention of it
The makers of the movie 'The Kerala Story' have claimed that 32,000 women in Kerala belonging to the Hindu and Christian communities have disappeared and have been trafficked to places such as Syria and Afghanistan to be sold as sex slaves to terrorist outfits such as ISIS over the last ten years. This they claim has happened through 'love-jihad' -a term that describes a conspiracy theory peddled by the Hindu right that alleges an elaborate ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into romantic relationships with the ultimate aim to convert the latter to Islam.
BOOM found that the makers of 'The Kerala Story' have grossly exaggerated the claim and that there is no data either by the Indian government or international organisations which supports the 32,000 figure. While there have been instances reported (read here, here and here) where law enforcement agencies are probing women from Kerala being duped with promises of jobs or ISIS sympathy, no record reflects a number so large. BOOM found that the reasoning provided by the makers of the film are based on extrapolation and sources from where they are yet to recieve replies, such as Right to Information (RTI) applications. The movie is slated to be released on May 5 as a trailer was recently released for the film, which was followed by a slew of controversies. In a Facebook post, the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, has lashed out against the film and so has his party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress, which is in opposition in the state.
By Muhammad Usman Ghani
Pakistan, like the rest of the world, is facing a major threat from fake news. Access to news, political division, manipulation of social media conversations, trust in the news media, health information, and hate speech are all things that fake news has caused or spread.
According to a report by Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD), from 2015 to 2020, the number of Pakistani broadband Internet users went from 17 million to 83 million, which is almost a fourfold increase. The number of mobile broadband users grew the most. Despite a considerable digital divide—Internet penetration is less than 44% of the population—the availability of 3G and 4G mobile Internet has also led to a small but consistent growth in social media use. From 2013 on, political debates on the two biggest social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, became more popular in Pakistan. This followed a trend that was almost identical to the one seen in the United States. MMfD published that nine out of ten Pakistanis currently see disinformation as an issue, and seventy percent of the population thinks Facebook’s platform is utilized most often to propagate misinformation in the nation.
Fake news messages have significantly impacted the public’s opinion of Pakistan’s anti-polio vaccination campaign. In order to discourage parents from vaccinating their children, these misinformation tactics draw on existing vaccine scepticism and common religious or xenophobic stereotypes. In 2019, a fake video about how vaccinations affect children caused hundreds of thousands of Facebook users to interact with false anti-vaccine information. This may have been part of a chain of events that led to the suspension of the country’s anti-polio vaccination campaign. Similarly, press reports and public surveys revealed that COVID-19 misinformation campaigns caused many to believe the coronavirus was a foreign scheme, an overblown danger, or a fake. Such ideas seem to have directly affected people’s attitude about COVID-19 precautions, as seen by the public’s irresponsible behavior before the second coronavirus outbreak in Pakistan. The COVID-19 deception also caused some to avoid medical care and commit violent crimes against health personnel. People were getting the wrong idea from fake messages and conspiracy theories that doctors were working together to make more people die from the coronavirus.
“DisInfo Lab,” a non-governmental organization based in the EU, created a matrix of the Indian misinformation campaign in 2019 and 2020. This campaign relied heavily on fake news sources in social media and mainstream media to lobby international and civil society against Pakistan. Since 2005, the Indian news agency Asian News International (ANI) and the Delhi-based Shrivastava group have contributed to the creation of 256 anti-Pakistan websites that disseminate false information to 65 countries. Reports say that important parts of the larger syndicate were social organizations and humanitarian groups with ties to the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU). Nearly ten UNHRC-affiliated NGOs have been identified as spreading anti-Pakistan propaganda. During the campaign, Dr. Louis B. Sohn, a Harvard professor of International Humanitarian Law, took part in humanitarian conferences about the Baloch separatist movement in 2011.
This cyber misinformation effort, which lasted for over a decade, was reportedly signed in placing Pakistan on the “grey list” of the FATF, which carries accusations of funding violent extremism. Since then, Pakistan has worked hard to change the mix of false ideas about it. The current government of Pakistan has put out a detailed report on how India has lied and been dishonest in international affairs. Still, the United Nations Security Council and its important P5 members haven’t done much to deal with or stop the growing threat.
India slips in World Press Freedom Index, ranks 161 out of 180 countries
In comparison, Pakistan climbed up seven ranks to reach 150 this year.
May 03, 2023 10:34 am | Updated May 04, 2023 10:47 am IST - New Delhi
THE HINDU BUREAU
India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has slipped to 161 out of 180 countries, according to the latest report released by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In comparison, Pakistan has fared better when it comes to media freedom as it was placed at 150, an improvement from last year’s 157th rank. In 2022, India was ranked at 150.
Sri Lanka also made significant improvement on the index, ranking 135th this year as against 146th in 2022
Norway, Ireland and Denmark occupied the top three positions in press freedom, while Vietnam, China and North Korea constituted the bottom three.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) comes out with a global ranking of press freedom every year. RSF is an international NGO whose self-proclaimed aim is to defend and promote media freedom. Headquartered in Paris, it has consultative status with the United Nations. The objective of the World Press Freedom Index, which it releases every year, “is to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories” in the previous calendar year.
Also read: Exponential rise in attacks on press freedom: PCI-IWPC
RSF defines press freedom as “the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.”
The Indian Women's Press Corps, the Press Club of India, and the Press Association released a joint statement voicing their concern over the country's dip in the index.
"The indices of press freedom have worsened in several countries, including India, according to the latest RSF report," the joint statement said.
"For developing democracies in the Global South where deep pockets of inequities exist, the media's role cannot be understated. Likewise the constraints on press freedom due to hostile working conditions like contractorisation have to also be challenged. Insecure working conditions can never contribute to a free press," it added.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor too, commented on the embarrassing development.
"Time for all of us to hang our heads in shame: India slips in World Press Freedom Index, ranks 161 out of 180 countries," he wrote on Twitter.
By Sanjaya Baru
Arresting advocates of Khalistan and of Jihadism without arresting advocates of a Hindu Rashtra is not in India’s national security interests in the long run.
The national security challenge both within Pakistan and within India is essentially a domestic challenge of rising economic inequality, religious extremism and regional sectarianism. Of course, India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism and Pakistani state agencies are responsible for this. Pakistan too alleges that it is a victim of ‘cross border terrorism’, emanating from both its eastern and western borders. However, the challenge to national security in both countries comes increasingly from domestic sources. It would be no exaggeration to say that internal threats to national security pose a greater challenge in both countries than external threats to security.
A Pakistani columnist, Huma Yusuf, summed up the challenge to her country in words that could easily find an echo this side of the border.
“The number of issues around which Pakistanis should be coalescing is staggering: food security, safety, dignity of work, free speech, minority rights, welfare protections, healthcare provisions, climate resilience. Until we can craft a politics that champions for the people rather than against their overlords, our future will be riot, not reform.”
Why Pakistan became a laggard
Pakistan’s problems are rooted in its domestic political and economic evolution. It is often forgotten that in the period 1960-1980 Pakistan’s economy grew at annual rate of 6.0% while India’s growth rate was 3.5%. In the 1990s, this was reversed with India growing annually at close to 5.5% and Pakistan slowing down to an annual average growth rate of less than 4.0%. Pakistan also performed better on the foreign trade front than India till 1990. In the 2000s, Pakistan has paid a heavy price on the economic and development fronts thanks to the course its domestic politics took.
That was not to be.
The Pakistan middle class began to migrate in large numbers to West Asia and western nations, leaving the country in the hands of traditional feudal elites. It is into this vortex that Imran Khan entered, with the help of the military, seeking to stabilise the country internally. However, as Pakistan scholar Ayesha Siddiqa observed recently, while Imran’s supporters came to “express 70 years of anger” against the traditional elite, “the crowd was also raised by the military to think it has the right to own and drive the State.”
Taking Siddiqa’s analysis forward in a perceptive analysis of the situation in Pakistan, Praveen Swami adds:
“The religious right-wing positioned itself as the pole of political resistance to the elitism of the post-colonial state…The religious Right enjoyed influence far in excess of its demonstrated electoral success because of the reluctance of the secular centrist parties to challenge Islamism head-on. Each wanted to recruit Islamism to its side, not seeing it as a threat to democracy.”
Just as Pakistan has experienced a massive out-migration of its educated middle class, along with elements of the elite and working classes, India too has experienced what I have termed as the ‘secession of the successful’ with both the Indian middle class and urban rich migrating overseas. Adding to the out-migration of working class talent (West Asia), and the educated middle (English-speaking countries) we now have the growing out-migration of business and what are called High Net worth Individuals or HNIs.