Even as India battles the coronavirus epidemic, motivated propagandists are continuing to do what they do best.
Rana Ayyub, who regularly writes anti-India pieces in international publications, today shared a tweet which shows a number of people being purportedly punished by the police. “Punishing the labourers for leaving the lockdown. Cry my beloved country,” she wrote.
The tweet fed straight into the narrative that Ayyub and her cabal likes to propagate, that the Modi government is high handed and authoritarian. Her tweet went viral, and quickly gathered nearly a thousand retweets. But people then discovered that the picture that Ayyub had shared wasn’t that of the lockdown at all — it wasn’t even from this year.
A simple reverse image search showed that the picture was first published on 30th July 2019 in Telugu daily Eenadu. The picture was of people being punished after violating traffic rules.
But Rana Ayyub, without bothering to check the antecedents of the photo, went ahead and shared it to her nearly 1 million followers. After being called out, Ayyub then deleted the tweet.
But the damage might have been done — by the time Ayyub deleted the tweet with her provocative caption, it would have probably made it to thousands of WhatsApp groups and Facebook accounts, and fuelled the narrative she wants to propagate. Cry my beloved country, Ayyub had said while sharing the picture. India should cry all right, but chiefly at the kinds of journalists it has managed to produce.