Updated. Earlier published on Sept 27. Adding New York Times clarification
ISLAMABAD, Sept 29 (APP): To coverup the fallout of large protests against human rights violations by India, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Nations General Assembly and meeting with US leadership, the Indian social media churned out an image of a fake news report by the New York Times.
Images of the Indian Prime Minister’s huge portrait on the upper half of the main page of the New York Times went viral on the country’s social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp groups with praise being lavished on their premier and for “making India proud.”
The screenshot featured a large photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the headline “Last, Best Hope of Earth” and “World’s most loved and most powerful leader is here to bless us”, referring to Modi’s US visit on September 24-25. The purported report appeared in the September 26, 2021 edition.
The fake image of the New York Times was widely spread on various social media accounts, prompting the reputed newspaper to issue a clarification on Sept 29. In a Twitter message, the New York Times Communications stated: “This is a completely fabricated image, one of many in circulation featuring Prime Minister Modi.”
The clarification also shared a link from where the NYT readers can find “All of our factual reporting on Narendra Modi.”
The image of the purported NYT front page was circulated en masse on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp group chats, with messages like “Proud of my PM” accompanying it.
One of the widely shared WhatsApp groups forwarded the photograph with a caption: “Modi ji on the front page of the United States’ biggest newspaper. What could be a greater matter of pride than this?”
Unlike Prime Minister Imran Khan who was on the front page of Newsweek, and is the most sought-after world leader by the international media, Prime Minister Modi got a blunt ‘ignore; from the US media.
The front page of the original New York Times paper of September 26 in fact did not carry any story on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The social media posts did not share any link to the purported post, while even a cursory glance at the image clearly showed that it has been doctored.
The font of the headline in the fake image did not match the New York Times stylesheet, while the date of the story featured a typo — “26 Setpember” instead of 26 September.
The image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi first appeared in a news story published by the Zee News last month; “PM Modi to chair UNSC high-level open debate on enhancing maritime security.”
However, on the contrary President, Joe Biden in his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded him of Gandhi and his message of non-violence in a snub on daily reports of lynching and mob violence against the minorities; Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits, and others.
“As the world celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday next week, we’re all reminded that his message of non-violence, respect, tolerance matters today maybe more than it ever has,” official remarks released by the White House said.
The mention of Gandhi and Gandhism in fact alluded to the fact that Gandhi was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindutva Brahmin from Maharashtra, and that his government was not satisfied with the gruesome human rights situation in India under the Hindutva rule.
The fake news on social media handles created an uproar in India where Modi’s critics lambasted the BJP for yet another fake news item.
Over the years, the pattern of churning out fake news from Indian media and its social media handles being operated by its intelligence network places it among the most unreliable categories.
According to Jitendra K Biswal @JBiswal “I’ve never seen a more lowly & mean entity than the BJP IT Cell. To show their “mai-baap” Modi in good light, they don’t even hesitate to create a fake New York Times cover story. And, who cares if in all their hurry, they write the date of the publication as SETPEMBER 26, 2021..”
Recent fake reports about the use of Pakistan Air Force aircraft to fight the National Resistance against the Taliban in Panjshir valley were also reported by top international news channels for the world to know how reality was being distorted by the Indian media.
The disclosures by the EU Disinfo Lab explicitly showed how the country created fake media outlets to create fake news to achieve its objectives and target regional countries like China and Pakistan.
In reality, large protests were held in the United States against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.