Farmers across India have been protesting against the recently passed farm laws, which they claim to be ‘anti-farmer’, in Delhi and at the Singhu and Tikri border.
The farmers have already met with representatives of the Centre on five occasions and have requested for the withdrawal of what they have termed as ‘black laws’.
However, in the light of ongoing protests, social media has been flooded with misinformation to malign the interest and the image of the protestors. Such morphed images or fake news have been shared by politicians from across political spectrums, and by individuals both for and against the farmers.
Farmers didn’t bring up abrogation of Article 370 and 35A
A picture of Sikh men opposing the scrapping of Article 370 and 35A in Indian-administered Kashmir – captioned to seem like a part of the ongoing farmers’ protest – was widely shared on Twitter.
The original tweet has had over 3,000 re-tweets and more than 11,000 likes.
The post was also re-tweeted by Priti Gandhi, head of social media for the women’s cell of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The image was used to vilify the farmers’ protest and make it seem like a platform to propagate other agendas.
However, BBC traced the image back to an August 2019 post on the Facebook page of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a regional political party based in Punjab state.
The picture was posted in 2019 after the abrogating of the partial autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir. The SAD party – along with other groups in India – opposed this move.
Hence, it is evident that the particular image is completely unrelated to the current farmers’ demonstrations.
Fake screenshot of Kamala Harris backing the farmers
A morphed screenshot of US vice-president-elect Kamala Harris was shared where she apparently extended her support to the protesting farmers in India.
The Facebook post shows a tweet – seemingly under the official Twitter handle of Harris – saying: “We are shocked to see the Indian government’s suppression of farmers protesting new laws which will endanger their livelihood. Instead of using water cannons and tear gas, the Indian government needs to engage in open dialogue with farmers.”
However, Facebook hasn’t taken down the post but issued a warning, stating the image as ‘altered photo’.
As per BBC reports, Harris’ media team responded to the enquiry about the post said: “Yes, this is fake.”
The vice-president-elect hasn’t commented on the farmers’ protest.
Meanwhile, a Canadian MP called Jack Harris (no relation to the Veep) did tweet in support of the Indian farmers on 27 November. The content of his tweet matches word to word with the tweet falsely attributed to Kamala Harris.
Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern over protests while addressing a gathering of the Indian community.
Trudeau’s remarks were rebuffed by the Indian government, which said they were “ill-informed.”
Using old pictures
The Twitter accounts of the Indian Youth Congress and other senior opposition Congress leaders shared old images from a protest in October 2018, which show barricades and water cannon used by the police, suggesting them to be depictions of the current protests.
One such post says: “India can never forgive the govt who treats those who feed this nation like terrorists.”
While water cannon and tear gas have been used by the police in recent days, some of these images are not only from a different protest, two years ago – they are also taken place in a completely different location.
As per BBC, a reverse image search showed that they relate to a protest by farmers from Uttar Pradesh, who marched to Delhi in 2018 in a row over loan waivers and payment of their debts.