A social media user called Javed Pathan today shared on Twitter a fake photo of Yogi Adityanath sitting in front of a laptop, claiming that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister was watching a live transmission of the cremation of the 19-year-old Hathras victim. Earlier this week, the police had allegedly performed her last rites in the dead of the night, claim some people, while the woman’s family alleges that the police forced them to conduct the rites.
The fake photo soon went viral on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms too. While an apparently embarrassed Javed Pathan pulled down the tweet with the URL https://twitter.com/imjaved_pathan/status/1311318272365731841, by then many had preserved screenshots of the tweet and its following content.
Before the deletion, the Facebook page of Jai Bhim Channel had shared the same photo in a video to attack Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A closer scrutiny shows the video was posted from Pakistan.
It turns out the miscreants digitally altered a screengrab from an ANI video showing Yogi speak to the family of Hathras victim via video conferencing on a laptop. Google reverse image search shows several credible news portals had carried the original video and photo. News agency ANI had tweeted it on 30 September 2020.
“Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath speaks to the family of #Hathras gang-rape victim, via video conferencing,” read the text accompanying the original photo.
It is evident that the fake news peddlers superimposed visuals of the cremation on the laptop screen in front of Yogi.
They took the cremation visuals from a photo that journalist Tanushree Pandey had tweeted on 30 September. She has been live-reporting from Hathras for the past several days.
“Hathras victim burnt against her family’s will. Police locked family members & locals inside the house & forcibly burnt the body. The family couldn’t even see their daughter for one last time. If torture is done to the girl was horrific, this is beyond humanity. We’re finished,” read the tweet she had posted.
Fact-checking yielded that the claim of Chief Minister Yogi watching the cremation of Hathras gang-rape victim broadcast live is false. The photo used to make this claim had been digitally morphed.