By: Soumadip Dey
Claim: Pictures of a Muslim man and hand grenades have been shared on social media as a Muslim Congress leader from Assam who has been arrested for plotting to kill Hindus.
Source : Facebook and Twitter.
The pictures have been shared with the caption: ‘असम के कांग्रेस नेता अमजात अली सेब की पेटी में हथियार और गोलियां के साथ मस्जिद से हिरासत में। हिंदुओं को मारने का कर रहा था प्लान। पुलिस ने दबोचा’
These images and narrative have been circulating on social media for almost a week, with a number of individuals sharing it independently on their wall or timelines. While the individual share numbers are fairly low, collectively this narrative has been viewed by thousands of people. This is a pattern prominent when information like this is primarily shared through WhatsApp groups.
Facts: The claim that a Congress Leader from Assam has been apprehended for plotting to kill Hindus is completely false, as are the images in the posts. The pictures of a Muslim man arrested by the police as well as the mugshots are from Bangladesh. The person in the picture is Mobarak Hossain, a Madrasa teacher arrested for molesting a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide. The incident took place in May 2018 and was covered in the regional media outlets along with the very same pictures used to spread a false narrative in India.
While these two images are from Bangladesh, the other image of hand grenades and apples strewn on the ground is from Kashmir, India. The images were published on the 29th of October, 2018, by news outlets when the Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested three suspected terrorists after a brief shootout near Noora Hospital on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Conclusion: With the immense reach of social media, it is now remarkably easy to spread stories about distrust and hate using misinformation. This is a particularly pernicious example, with dangerous false news spread without a minimum of effort, simply by mixing images of a Muslim person, a picture of explosives, and an a concocted narrative. Surprisingly, a huge number of people fell for these preposterous claims, subjecting both the Congress Party as well as Muslims in general to savage vituperation in the comments section of these posts. People are advised to double check communally sensitive news and information on social media because more often than not these posts turn out to be fake. We also encourage people to report accounts that post these sorts if images and links.