The Fake News Factory Continues To Embarass

A Chinese journalist shared a collage of tweets by the BJP leaders and ministers, who passed off the Beijing airport’s picture as that from Noida.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday laid the foundation stone of the Noida International Airport, near Jewar in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Buddh Nagar district. Once operational, this will be UP’s fifth international airport – the most of any state.

It will be spread over 1,300 hectares and work on the first (of four) phases is due to be over by 2024 – when the Lok Sabha election will be held. The estimated cost is Rs 10,500 crore.

The inauguration also comes at a time when the Northern state is up for assembly elections in a few months.

The inauguration led to a flurry of promotional posts by the BJP leaders and officials, in which they praised the grand project. However, turns out, many prominent leaders in the saffron party, including ministers, tweeted fake images of the airport.

Several BJP leaders and ministers have been called out by a mediaperson from China’s state-run Global Television Network (CGTN) for passing off images of the Beijing Daxing International Airport as the model for the upcoming Jewar airport in Noida.

This comes days after leaders from India’s ruling party were also called out for posting images of South Korea’s Incheon international airport as a model for the Jewar airport.

CGTN employee Shen Shiwei Friday night tweeted a collage of senior BJP leaders and Union ministers’ tweets about the Noida International Airport. “Errr….Shocked to know that Indian government officials had to use photographs of China Beijing Daxing International Airport as proof of their ‘achievements of infrastructure’,” tweeted Shiwei.

This is not the first incident of the BJP leaders sharing fake or manipulated media. There have been multiple instances in the past when the saffron party leaders were caught peddling lies or manipulating facts.

Bengal flyover in UP

In September this year, the Uttar Pradesh government faced a backlash on social media for using what appeared to be a photo of a Kolkata flyover in one of its advertisements.

The advertisement, titled “Transforming Uttar Pradesh under Adityanath” and published in The Indian Express, showed Chief Minister Adityanath towering over a collage of what was depicted as the state’s infrastructure projects.

Twitter users were quick to point out that the flyover shown in the advertisement was actually situated in West Bengal’s capital city. They also spotted one of Kolkata’s iconic yellow taxis on the road in the image.

Soon after, The Indian Express tweeted that the advertisement was produced by the newspaper’s own marketing department, and apologised for “inadvertently” using a “wrong image”.

Sambit Patra, the usual suspect

The BJP spokesperson is infamous for making unverified claims and social media posts.

As recent as four days back, a Delhi Court directed the police to register an FIR against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sambit Patra for allegedly posting a doctored video of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal supporting the farm laws, saying it may have resulted in rioting like situation across the nation.

In May this year, Twitter flagged a tweet by BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra alleging the use of a ‘toolkit’ by Congress as manipulated media.

The May 18 tweet included pictures of a document that, according to Mr. Patra, enlists social media measures used by the Congress to hurt Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per Twitter’s policy, content may be labelled as ‘manipulated media’ or, in some cases, removed if the company has a reason to believe that media, or the context in which media are presented, are “significantly and deceptively altered or manipulated”.

Bengal Elections and aftermath

During the West Bengal assembly elections, even as the leaders of the saffron party boasted of a massive turnout on social media, supporters of the Left Parties alleged that the former had circulated fake pictures of the rally. It was alleged that the BJP had tried to pass off the photographs of a 2019 rally—held at the same venue—of the Left Front as their own. The picture was shared by official handles of BJP Tamil Nadu, BJP Punjab and BJP members Tajinder Bagga, SG Suryah, Bhanu Jalan and CA OP Mishra.

Even during the post-poll violence in the Eastern state, after Mamata Banerjee-led TMC swept the elections, the rival BJP tried to add fuel to the ongoing violence. According to the report by The Wire, several BJP leaders and officials were involved in sharing pictures and videos that were not from Bengal or were manipulated to spark violent reactions.

It was so much so that the BJP had to delete a video from its official Facebook page after a journalist pointed out that he had been falsely identified as someone who was killed in post-poll violence in the state. Abhro Banerjee tweeted a screenshot of the video where he was identified as “Manik Moitro” from Sitalkuchi. He also posted a link to the purported video.

“I am Abhro Banerjee, living and hale and hearty and around 1,300 km away from Sitalkuchi,” the journalist tweeted. “BJP IT Cell is now claiming I am Manik Moitra [spelt ‘Moitro’ in the video] and died in Sitalkuchi. Please don’t believe these fake posts and please don’t worry. I repeat: I am (still) alive.”


These are a few instances from the recent past when the BJP and its leaders were caught red-handed while pushing fake pictures and media. There are, however, innumerable instances of its leaders and social media cell peddling false and fake media since the party came to power.

Be it the BJP Chattisgarh using images from Gujarat and abroad to show improved highways under its rule, or the BJP leaders passing off 8 years old picture of a US tunnel as Atal tunnel inaugurated by PM Modi. Union Minister Piyush Goyal also joined the party when he shared a speeded-up video of the Vande Bharat Express in an attempt to claim success for Narendra Modi’s Make in India manufacturing campaign.

This India Today report, published long before the aforementioned mischiefs by the BJP leaders, narrates how the Hindu-nationalist party has used fake media and news to its benefit since it came to power.

BJP & misinformation

In the age of internet and rapidly moving world, it is natural for users to make mistakes and post or share stuff that has not been verified. However, it should be inescapable for anyone to issue an apology for sharing such content once its falsity has been pointed out. The BJP leaders, however, do not indulge in this practice. In fact, almost none of the BJP leaders or handles mentioned above, have apologised publically for pushing false content.

This gives rise to the question of whether the party and its leaders get involved in such practice intentionally? If yes, it is not helping the image of our country internationally, after the Chinese journalist exposed the fake-tweeting.

It’s necessary for Mr Modi and the Ministry of I&B to ensure that people holding positions in the government do not share false information. It’s necessary that the PM ensures that no such embarassment is caused in the future for the country due to the careless tweeting of Modi’s party and leaders.


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