By: Soumadip Dey
Claim: A picture of a soldier on lookout duty with a frozen gun has been shared on social media with the claim that it is an Indian soldier.
What Happened: A picture of a soldier with a frozen gun in a mountainous region has been shared on social media by multiple people and pages with the claim that the the soldier is in the Indian Army. The picture shows a seated soldier at what appears to be a mountaintop guardpost with a gun by his side. The temperatures are clearly subzero, and the gun appears to be frozen because of the extreme weather conditions.
The image has been shared with a Hindi caption that states:
This can be translated to: ‘Ask our army brothers what cold really is. A Jai Hind for our brave army brothers.’
This image and narrative has been shared by a substantial number of people on social media, with the count fast increasing.
However, this is not the only narrative with which the picture has been shared. Only a few days ago, the exact same image was shared with the claim that the soldier belongs to the Pakistani army. The post was shared with an Urdu caption, which can be translated as: ‘Pakistani army live long.’
Facts: The image and the narrative are completely false. None of the posts have mentioned the origin of the picture, or even where it was taken. The picture first started circulating on Indian and Pakistani pages this month, but it can in fact be traced back to 2017. Some users have also linked it to the army of Afghanistan.
Moreover, the picture in all probability is photoshopped. Firstly, the balance and the angle of the gun is wrong, as it appears to only be resting on a sandbag without any support. Secondly, for a trained soldier to stand guard with a useless gun seems highly unlikely, as he would be in dereliction of duty for failing to maintain his weapon properly. There is also a remarkable lack of snow on the soldier himself or the embankments he is guarding.
We ran the image through InVid, an image analysis tool, and the results indicated that the gun had indeed been photoshopped into the original image.
Conclusion: A number of Facebook users and pages callously exploit the patriotism people feel towards their country and the army. This is yet another instance of social media profiteering by using unverified and altered images to gain shares and likes. Frontline soldiers all over the over the world undergo hardship and difficulty, be they in India, Pakistan, or Afghanistan. Cynically using these images as misinformation about army personnel is not only disrespectful, it diminishes the actual sacrifices soldiers the world over make on a daily basis.