The Army Has a Lot More to Do than Bust Fake News of Air Strikes in PoK. What a Shame, Indian Media

Social Commentary

The Army Has a Lot More to Do than Bust Fake News of Air Strikes in PoK. What a Shame, Indian Media

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Fake news on TV channels and social media has often had consequences in real life. In the past, it has led to rioting and people being falsely targeted. In a new low for Indian media, a handful channels on Thursday ran headlines that India has carried out targeted air strikes across the Line of Control (LOC) in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The message was even amplified by certain anchors with lakhs of followers on social media.

Social media users started sharing screen grabs of news channels claiming Indian air strikes in PoK. The source of the news was alleged to be PTI. The story was based on analysis of the ceasefire violations that took place on November 13.However, instead of verifying the news, it was flashed in bold letters on TV and then shared by prominent anchors on social media. Deepak Chaurasia, Rubika Liyaquat, and Anjana Om Kashyap took to Twitter to announce how it was “the biggest operation till date” and “multiple terror spots were destroyed”.

#POKAirStrik immediately started trending on Twitter with users celebrating the event and sharing memes about the success of the operation.

Even fake images were circulated.

The spread of misinformation stopped when Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General Paramjit Singh stepped in. He clarified that the Indian Army had not conducted any action in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “Reports of Indian Army’s action in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) across the Line of Control are fake,” Lieutenant General Paramjit Singh said.

At a sensitive time in the border areas, the DGMO has to now take out time to call out fake news. That reflects quite poorly on the state of the Indian media.

Social media users demanded an apology as #फर्जी_गोदी_मीडिया_माफी_माँगों started trending on Twitter.

Journalist Shekhar Gupta said, “It will be sad if the next war is set off by fake news. It might just happen.”

Veteran anchor Rajdeep Sardesai also echoed that sentiment, fearing that “one day an Indo-Pak war will be sparked off in a TV news studio with false news”.

The only war we need right now is the one against fake news.