Twitter India forced BJP MP Paresh Rawal to delete his offensive tweet targeting author-activist Arundhati Roy, but the news article that fuelled Rawal’s outrage was fake.
On Sunday, the actor-politician tweeted saying: “Instead of tying stone-pelter on the army jeep tie Arundhati Roy”. The post was a reference to a video from Kashmir in April where the Indian army had used a civilian as a human shield.
Arundhati, however, has denied ever making the statement to which Rawal (and later singer Abhijeet) responded on Twitter. "I have not been to Srinagar recently. And my last comment on Kashmir is an article published last year in Outlook," she told this magazine.
The outrage from both the left and the right had begun on Rawal’s tweets but what is interesting is how the BJP spokersperson attempted to defend him on CNN News 18 on Monday night, when the story hit headlines.
On Bhupendra Chaubey’s show, BJP’s Sudhanshu Mittal kept repeating that Roy had been spewing venom about the Kashmir conundrum on social media. Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy, who was also on the debate corrected Mittal saying that Roy was not on any social media. Chaubey sheepishly admitted that he had tagged the wrong handle (@roybot_) while putting the debate out on Twitter.
It is clear that the three letters ‘bot’ are really supposed to mean something. And it wasn’t just that which escaped people, including Chaubey.
Chaubey's show kept putting forth a Facebook page carrying an interview by Roy, based on which Rawal launched his tirade. Roy had apparently told a Pakistani daily that even 70 lakh Indian troops of the Indian army could not defeat the ones demanding azadi in Kashmir.
https://t.co/a6C2hWdpPz is such a toxic ...Her birth certificate must be a regret letter from maternity ward !— Paresh Rawal (@SirPareshRawal) May 17, 2017
Here is the Facebook post that Rawal quoted:
It brings us to a website titled Postcard News whose author is of the opinion (even while introducing the piece) that “people like Arundhati Roy would have probably been in jail by now serving life term”.
Spell-binding grammar aside, the ‘news’ of Roy’s statement to a Pakistan-based newspaper was big, if true.
The post also found its way through the now serial-fake-news propagator WhatsApp, and folks from Kerala had been getting these forwards from their right-leaning relatives.
Here is the original piece, filed by The Times of Islmabad, which does quote someone that looks like Roy if we go by the picture with the article. However, Arundhati RAI is quoted in the piece, and the copy says: “Senior Indian Journalist and Human Rights activist Arundhati Rai has lashed out at the Indian government and Indian Army over the atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Speaking during her visit to Srinagar, she said India cannot achieve its objective in the occupied valley even if its army deployment raises from 7 lakh to 70 lakh, further adding that Kashmiris have remained committed with their anti-India sentiments from many years.”
The story has additional inputs from an NDTV copy and from news agency PTI but does not have a byline to go with it. That was enough though to get the fake news monster to smile gleefully and throw barbs everywhere.
Pretty soon, everyone had the story and few had bylines to go with them.
A simple Google search with the keywords (70 lakh indian army soldiers kashmir arundhati roy) will throw up these search results. While some don’t have the story or takes on the story on their websites anymore, the ones above do.
So Paresh Rawal does not like fact-checking, but those that knew the cause of his tirades should, before they fuel the fire any further.