Misinformation over the Citizenship Amendment Act now isn’t only coming from foreign-backed communist news outlets and shadowy WhatsApp groups — it’s now coming from official accounts of major brands as well.
Eyewear compnay Lenskart’s offical Twitter handle today tweeted out a rumour that’s also been spread by various anti-CAA propagandists over the last few weeks. “These documents are not of 1950 Miss Prajwal,” the handle said. The handle was responding to a Twitter user who’d wondered how Shaheen Bagh’s protesters were claiming to not not have documents, but still were queuing up to vote during the Delhi polls.
Lenskart’s assertion around requiring documents from 1950 for the NPR exercise is a common misconception that’s been spread by anti-CAA protesters around the country. The Indian government has repeatedly stressed that no Indian will have to prove their ancestry for the NRC exercise, and has also said that it has no immediate plans for a pan-India NRC. As such, mention of “documents from 1950” is a part of the fear-mongering narrative that breaking India forces have unleashed on India’s citizens over the last few weeks.
As soon as Lenskart’s tweet started getting some attention, it was deleted by the company. Lenskart has yet to come out with a clarification on what caused the tweet — it’s unclear at the moment if the tweet was a work of an errant social media manager or the company’s official position. But Twitter users were quick to pounce on the misstep. “Chalo. Now Lenskart too comes out as a bigot and misrepresents facts about CAA and NRC. Slowly I am beginning to understand the importance of normal shopkeeper. He is always “one of us,” wrote a user.
Apart from the anger, there was trolling too. “You need better quality spectacles to avoid misreading what’s not stated,” wrote another user.
Some users even called for a boycott of the company.
Over the last few months, rumours around the CAA-NRC-NPR exercise have flown thick and fast through social media. They can usually be traced back to left-leaning journalists, radical Islamist activists, and sundry liberal influencers. But for an established brand’s official Twitter account to share what’s an unproven rumour shows how effective the propaganda has really become.