A clip of a man standing on a building, removing a green flag and installing saffron in place went viral on social media. Many including journalists and social media influencers shared the clip stating, a man installs a saffron flag by removing the green at a Mosque.
However, within no time the police shared an update and arrested the accused who spread misinformation on social media.
The video was shared on March 31 and was claimed to be from Beenjhbayala, Ganganagar, Rajasthan.
Among many sharing the video, one was a multimedia journalist, Meer Faisal known for his biased reportage for propaganda outlets like The Wire and Deutsche Welle (DW News, Germany). Faisal first shared the clip stating a saffron flag was installed over a Mosque during the Ram Navami procession.
However, he deleted the clip after being called out on social media.
As per the viral clip, “This video is claimed to be from Beenjhbayala, Ganganagar, Rajasthan.
A saffron flag was planted on top of a mosque during Ram Navami procession.”
This video is claimed to be from Beenjhbayala,Ganganagar, Rajasthan.
— Mir Ilyas (@INC_Congress_UP) March 31, 2023
After Faisal was called out for his irresponsible reporting he wrote this on Twitter, “I went all the way from Delhi to Bihar Sharif to cover the entire incident so that I can bring the truth. Being a freelancer I incurred the entire cost of it. I was chased by the mob. A lot of people shared and amplified my work, but at the same time, I am seeing many people don’t even care to credit it. This is the least you can do for a freelancer. You are not giving me anything but I will appreciate it if you all can be bit ethical. It’s been a while since I am doing journalism and I think it is time to call out everyone who think doing so is ethical. This is unethical.”
I went all the way from Delhi to Bihar Sharif to cover the entire incident so that I can bring the truth. Being a freelancer I incurred the entire cost of it. I was chased by the mob. A lot of people shared and amplified my work, but at the same time, I am seeing many people…
— Meer Faisal (@meerfaisal01) April 4, 2023
This clip was shared on social media on March 31. Among many who shared the clip include, Zafarul Islam Khan, Founding Editor @milligazette, Former Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission.
The Ganganagar police taking cognizance of the viral clip nabbed two accused and said, the claims were false and that the video installing the saffron flag was not from any mosque, it was from a house.
ये पूर्ण सत्य घटना नहीं है । फेक न्यूज फैलाने वाले दो व्यक्तियों को गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया है। ये ध्वज किसी मस्जिद पर नहीं लगा है, ये एक व्यक्ति के घर पर लगा है। pic.twitter.com/7zVCkiuHAM
— Ganganagar Police (@sgnrpolice) March 31, 2023
Notably, the profiles of Meer Faisal and Zafarul Islam are filled with visuals from the recent Ram Navami violence. Despite having visuals showing the attack was started by the Islamists be it in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jharkhand or Bihar these users share misinformation claiming the attacks were planned by saffron goons.
Meer Faisal has a history of spreading Fake News
A similar video was shared by Meer Faisal claiming Hindus chanted Jai Shri Ram slogans in front of a Mosque in Maharashtra. Reportedly, the place is disputed and it does not belong to Islamic believers.
A user sharing the information wrote, “Zubair’s friend spread fake news that Hindus have raised slogans in Masjid and linked it to the Ram Navami procession, but the claim is fake as that place is disputed.”
— Only Fact (@OnlyFactIndia) April 5, 2023
Journalist and activist Ajeet Bharti took it to Twitter and questioned Faisal, “A serial fake news spreader @meerfaisal01 is crying over ‘ethics’ of journalism! What do you have to say for the Ganganagar flag incident? Did you even apologise for it?”
A serial fake news spreader @meerfaisal01 is crying over ‘ethics’ of journalism! What do you have to say for the Ganganagar flag incident? Did you even apologise for it? https://t.co/UeSgakcPJv pic.twitter.com/uj522n7P2c
— Ajeet Bharti (@ajeetbharti) April 5, 2023
Faisal was also booked by Delhi Police for allegedly ploting a story against Hindus and Delhi Police.
On April 4, 2022, Delhi Police booked Faisal and news portal Article 14 for disseminating false information using the social media platform Twitter. On April 3, Faisal claimed that five Muslim journalists, including him, were ‘assaulted’ at an event by a “Hindu” mob.
News portal Article 14 had also tweeted, “5 journalists, 4 of them Muslim,1 on assignment for @Article14live, have been taken by police to the Mukherji Nagar police station in Delhi after a mob at #Hindu#dharamsansad (for which the police had declined permission) discovered their religion, attacked them & deleted videos”.
However, the police claimed, “An FIR under Indian Penal Code’s Section 505 (2) has been registered at Mukherjee Nagar Police Station against some Twitter handles for tweets in circulation having content which could incite enmity, hatred, and ill-will between two communal groups. The investigation in the case has been taken up.”
On June 3, 2022, he claimed that it was a “Hindu mob” that pelted stones when Islamists were shutting shops to protest against “blasphemous” statements by Nupur Sharma.
A report however revealed that after Friday prayers, the Muslim mob began forcing Hindus in the Beconganj district to close their shops. When they objected, the enraged mob began throwing stones at Hindus.
On April 10, 2022, he claimed that Hindus target Muslims during Hindu festivals and such festivals had become a ‘nightmare’ for Muslims. He said, “Hindu festivals have become a nightmare for the Muslims of India. Hindus can’t even celebrate their festivals without targeting Muslims. Laanat hai!”
He also came out in support of Sharjeel Usmani and demanded his release while calling him a student leader.
Notably, spreading fake information by any individual is a crime punishable under section 63 of the IPC. As per the section, Any person wilfully and maliciously giving false information and so causing an arrest or a search to be made under this Act shall on conviction be liable for imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees or both.
Many activists and influencers are targeted by propaganda fact-checking websites like ‘Alt News’ for even mispronouncing something. But no fact check has been done in this case or for this video by the sites.