By: Soumadip Dey
Claim: A set of pictures have been circulated on social media with the claim that they are of the people who were recently arrested during raids conducted by the NIA, which apprehended an IS inspired module in Northern India.
What Happened: A series of pictures and claims have made their way onto social media, claiming that the pictures are from the recent raids by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which specifically investigates terrorism related activities.
The pictures have been shared with a narrative that includes a number of Muslim names and claims that these people were planning to attack right-wing organisations like the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, along with government hospitals.
The posts have been shared by a number of people on social media with different captions, but the pictures are almost always identical. The individual posts have then been further shared by a large number of people, which continues to rise hourly.
A few pages, however, have shared the same news about these pictures with a different image of the people being apprehended. While the narrative is indistinguishable, along with the picture of the arms and ammunition that were seized, these posts have used a different picture of the men who have been arrested. The posts with this image have also received a huge number of shares, with a lot of people sharing it on their own individual timeline. A number of right-wing groups have also shared it on their own pages.
Facts: The National Investigation Agency arrested ten people on the 26th of December, 2018, after raiding seventeen locations across North India. They were arrested for their suspected involvement with a new Islamic State-inspired terror module. According to news reports, the suspects were planning to carry out blasts and attacks on top political leaders in the country, although no mainstream media outlets have listed the RSS or any other well known Hindu organization as a particular target. All the reports have mentioned a person named Mufti Sohail, a resident of Delhi and a native of Amroha, as the leader of the module. The names of the other people arrested during the raids have not been disclosed in any of the news reports, apart from one by News Nation.
While some of the details included in the Facebook posts are true, including the picture of the firearms seized during the raids (the image has been used in multiple news reports), the other pictures are definitely not from these raids.
The first image of multiple men being arrested is actually from 2016, when the Delhi police released four of the ten terror suspects who were arrested for their alleged involvement with the banned outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
The second image used in the Facebook posts is also from 2016, when the NIA arrested Abdul Siddibapa, a key Indian Mujahideen operative, from the airport in Delhi.
Conclusion: This is another instance of communal propaganda with a bandwagon appeal, where false images were attached with a misleading caption to create sensationalism on social media and generate shares. This technique employs half-truths and false narratives to create a particular message that will have a widespread appeal via a dark glamour, and make people jump to false conclusions or affirm their confirmation biases.