Right-wing propaganda blog page OpIndia is known for peddling fake news. Not so long ago, the website had faced embarrassment after the Mumbai Police gave a public dressing down to a Rajasthan IAS officer, Sanjay Dixit, for posting the OpIndia link on Twitter. Dixit had to delete his tweet based on a fake story, published by the right-wing blog page.
The website is back in the news after it has once again been found to be spreading fake news. This time, OpIndia resorted to spreading fake news despite the Rajasthan Police’s calling out of a Twitter user for mischievously using a six-month-old video from Ranchi with a misleading caption that claimed Muslims were beating up people in Rajasthan after the Congress’ electoral victory.
On 16 December, the official Twitter handle of the Rajasthan Police had warned a Twitter user @Ashok6510 for spreading a fake video. The tweet by the Rajasthan Police had said, “Hellow
@Ashok6510, Rajasthan Police is watching you. This is an old video and from Ranchi in Jharkhand. You must immediately delete the video, or else the case will be handed over to the Cyber Unit. Do not spread such rumours in future.”
राजस्थान पुलिस आपको watch कर रही है। ये एक पुरानी वीडियो है जो झारखंड के रांची की है। आप तुरंत इसे delete करें अन्यथा Cyber Unit को यह case सौंप दी जायेगी।
— Rajasthan Police (@PoliceRajasthan) December 16, 2018
The user was quick to delete the fake video. But OpIndia wrote a blog, defending the user’s claims. The headline of its blog read, “Rajasthan Police ends up declaring a true incident as ‘fake news’ on Twitter.”
Fact checking website BoomLive conclusively established that the video shared by user @Ashok6510 was indeed fake and had no connection with Rajasthan, as claimed by him. BoomLive also spoke to senior police officials in Jharkhand to prove that the video was of an incident that took place in June in Ranchi after protests broke out during a motorcycle rally organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, youth wing of the BJP. Sujata Kumari Veenapani, Superitendent of Police, Ranchi city told the website, “There were clashes between two groups about a motorcycle rally being organised in the city. On the day of the rally, a police officer from the Lower Bazaar police station who was passing by was caught in the protests and beaten up by the crowd. We had also registered an FIR in the case,” Veenapani said.
Left red-faced, OpIndia later issued a clarification in its blog as it said, “UPDATE: The Twitter user who had deleted his tweet appeared to have attached a wrong video, however, the screenshot used by Rajasthan police in their warning did not include thumbnail of the video, in absence of which, a real incident (as seen in the text part of the screenshot used by Rajasthan police) was being tagged as ‘fake news’ by Rajasthan police and believed so by many users.”
But, despite its ‘update,’ the right-wing blog page has not changed it headline. Because, its school of journalism appears to think that genuine images or visuals shared with a false or incorrect context doesn’t qualify to be a fake news.
The BBC had recently singled out OpIndia as one of the sources that peddled fake news in the past.