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There Are No Massive Fires In Uttarakhand, Old and Unrelated Images Are Being Shared

Forest fires are indeed ravaging Uttarakhand, but some of the images being massively shared on social media are misleading.

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Claim 

As the country is battling coronavirus pandemic, Uttarakhand is fighting another environmental tragedy. According to a report in Business Insider, forest fires have been raging in Uttarakhand for almost four days. A total of 46 forest fires have been reported from Uttarakhand, and many hectares of forest have already been gutted. It was also reported that the Kumaon region was among the worst-hit area with almost two dozen incidents of forest fires.

In the backdrop of it, several horrific photos of wildfires are being shared on social media, claiming that these are the latest pictures are from Uttarakhand forest fire. Here are some of the tweets:

Several blue tick handles, including Jitin Prasada, former Union Minister, shared the viral images on their respective handles. We found that the same viral pictures are being shared on Facebook and WhatsApp as well. 

Fact Check:

We started fact-checking the viral pictures one by one. Here’s what we found.

Image 1: We found that it is the most viral image across various social media platforms.

Using reverse-image search on the Google search engine, we found a postdated article of news website News 18 India, which carried out the same viral image. The headline of the article published on April 30, 2016, reads, Forest fires rage across Uttarakhand, Air Force help sought. The credits for the photograph were given to Arup Sah.

We searched for his profile on Facebook and found that he also uploaded the same viral image on his profile on April 28, 2016.

Another media outlet, ABP News, in its article, also carried out the same viral image.

Image 2: It is another image viral on social media. Jitin Prasada, former Union Minister, also shared a collage showing forest in flames. In the viral image,  Pauri, a town and a municipal board in Pauri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand can be seen under massive fire. However, he deleted his tweet later on. Here is the archive version of the tweet.

A Google reverse search led us to an article published in Gulf today on May 14, 2019, on the alarming increase in forest fires across India. We could trace the image back to 2019. However, we were not able to ascertain the exact location of the picture.

Image 3: A Twitter user posted a set of two images. While we have debunked the second image, we fact-checked the first image in the tweet.

Google reverse image search led us to the Getty images website, which carried out the same viral image taken back on September 18, 2007. According to the description, the picture was taken when a major fire was reported in Fawnskin, California. The credits for the photograph were given to David McNew.

Image 4: A Twitter user posted a set of four images. We have already debunked the first two images; we fact-checked the other two images.

A Google reverse image search on the image, led us to an article published by Times of India on June 1, 2018, carrying out the same viral image. The headline of the article reads, Forest fires singe Himachal, claim four lives.

Another news media outlet, NDTV, carried out the image as a file photo in an article published on May 6, 2016. The headline reads, In Uttarakhand, Rain brings much-needed respite and hopes of business.

We now started fact-checking the fourth image. Google reverse image search led us to a website named Flickr, which carried out the same image. According to the website, the image was taken on August 17, 2013. The caption, along with the image reads, The Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest near California began on August 17, 2013, and is under investigation. The fire has consumed approximately 199,237 acres and is 32% contained. The credits for the photograph were given to Mike McMillan.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Forest Fire department also clarified that the images being shared on social media are fake. The fire department also requested the users to share authentic information.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also tweeted, saying that the old photos of fire are being shared to create a “misleading” impression on social media. The pictures of forest fires are from 2016 and 2019, whereas some of the photos were actually from forest fires in Chile and China.

He also posted a graphic, which shows that around 72 hectares of the area have been affected by forest fires as of May 25, whereas last year, around 1,600 hectares of area was affected due to forest fires by May 25.

Journalist Gargi Rawat posted a video of Dr. Parag Madhukar, an official with Forest Department, who clarified that there are no massive forest fires in Uttarakhand. He further added that many old and wrong visuals are being shared on social media. 

ANI also carried out the statement of Ashok Kumar, Director General of Police (Law and Order), who stated that some users had spread rumors on social media that massive fire has broken out in Uttarakhand forests, which is not true. Photos that are being shared are as old as 2016 when a massive fire had broken out, whereas some photos are from foreign countries, he added.He further added that FIR is being registered against people who are spreading rumors, and stringent legal action will be taken against them.

Conclusion:

Forest fires are indeed ravaging Uttarakhand, but some of the images being massively shared on social media are misleading. Old and unrelated images are being passed off on social media as recent pictures from Uttarakhand forest fires.

Sources

  • Google Search
  • Media Reports
  • Twitter Search
  • Google Reverse Image Search

Result: Misleading 

(If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form)

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Coronavirus

No, He Is Not Bharat Biotech’s VP Taking The First Dose of COVID Vaccine ‘Covaxin’

Social media users circulated a false image claiming that the vice president of Bharat Biotech has undergone the first clinical trial of the coronavirus vaccine.

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No, He Is Not Bharat Biotech’s VP Taking The First Dose of COVID Vaccine ‘Covaxin’

Several social users posted a picture of a woman thrusting a syringe in man’s vein and claimed that the man in the picture is Bharat Biotech’s Vice President, Dr. VK Srinivas, and the first dose of the vaccine was administered on him.

According to a report in Live Mint, Bharat Biotech, an unlisted Indian vaccine maker, has received regulatory approval to start human clinical trials for its experimental shot. The phase 1 trial of Covaxine will begin next week. The company has planned to enroll 375 people in the first phase of clinical trials.

We found that the same image is viral on Twitter and Facebook with a caption, “Dr. V. K.Srinivas, Vice President, Bharat biotech, taking Corona vaccine clinical trial immediately after taking the first dose. He is the first person in India to take vaccine developed by him and his team in Bharat Biotech. Look at the confidence.”

Fact Check

As we began fact-checking the claim, we looked for some media reports backing the claim, but we did not find any authentic information to corroborate.

However, during our research, we came across the statement tweeted by Bharat Biotech. In a statement posted on their Twitter handle, Bharat Biotech said that individual images and messages circulated on social media platforms had not disseminated by Bharat biotech. The image is a routine procedural blood draw for testing all production staff.

We now searched, if Dr.VK Srinivas is the Vice President of the Bharat biotech. During our research, we did not find any results for his name. We found that Dr. V Krishna Mohan is the Executive Director, and T Srinivas is the Chief Financial Officer of the management team of the pharmaceutical.

Conclusion

It is evident from our fact check that social media users circulated a false image claiming that the vice president of Bharat Biotech has undergone the first clinical trial of the coronavirus vaccine.

Tools Used

  • Google Search
  • Media Reports
  • Twitter Search

Result: False


If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form

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Fact check

The Claim On British Airways Permanently Shutting Down Is False

British Airways confirmed with us via email that it’s not shutting down its airline services nor did they create the video in context.

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British Airways Is not Permanently Shutting Down

Claim 

A message claiming the airline service, British Airways, is permanently shutting down due to heavy business loss incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic has been widely circulating on Whatsapp. 

Whatsapp message claim on British Airways permanently shutting down
Whatsapp message claim on British Airways permanently shutting down
Video claiming the closure of British Airways

This Whatsapp message is being shared with the above video claiming to be created by the airlines. 

Similar social media posts claiming BA’s shut down can be viewed here and here

Fact Check

As a first point of verification, we searched through the British Airways (BA) website for any information that suggests their permanent closure. In their Coronavirus travel and service updates section we came across updates on new protective measures introduced by the airline and more. Last updated on 26 June at 15:20 (at the time of writing this fact check), this section does not include any information on permanent closure of their services.

BA published a press release on 2 July, 2020 on their website’s media centre stating that the Airways reopens its routes throughout July. 

British Airways 2 July, 2020 press release on reopening routes
British Airways 2 July, 2020 press release on reopening routes

Next, we looked up their social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for any posts that suggest the closing of BA. Again, we couldn’t find any information related to this on these platforms. 

In fact on 20 June 2020, BA posted a video on their official Youtube page saying they look forward to welcoming people back on board. The description reads:

“In the past few months, we’ve all been missing the people and places we love. When the world opens up once more, we are looking forward to welcoming you back on board…”

British Airways video on welcoming its customers back on board

Verifying the claim video

Through a reverse image search of certain video frames as well as a keyword search on Youtube, we came across a channel named Unite the Union Yout which seems to have originally posted the video in context on 14 June 2020. Its description reads: 

“British Airways has applied to dismiss all of its staff from 15 June 2020. Before we leave you, the staff of British Airways would like to say thank you and goodbye. #WeAreBA” 

On 9 May, this account posted a video titled “A message to British Airways from its staff” after the company announced its plan to lay off thousands of staff members in order to restructure. We found this account to be impersonating another Youtube channel called Unite the Union which is the trade union representing BA’s stewards and stewardesses. The former has copied the actual trade union’s logo as seen below. 

Top image is of the Youtube account impersonating the official trade union channel shown below.
Top image is of the Youtube account impersonating the official trade union channel shown below.

Let’s note that the airline has recently been in news for firing 350 of its staff and putting another 300 staff members in a pool for rehire when needed, reports The Sun. A couple of weeks back a Transport Select Committee Report accused the airline of taking advantage of the pandemic after they announced a massive restructuring which would include 12,000 layoffs and changes to the terms and conditions of remaining staff. 

As a final confirmation, we directly reached out to British Airways, who confirmed with us via email that BA is not shutting down its services and the video in context was not created by them.  

You can read our other fact checks related to COVID-19 pandemic here.

Conclusion 

After receiving official confirmation from British Airways, we can safely say that the airline is not shutting down its services. 

Tools Used 

  • Reverse image search
  • Twitter advanced search
  • Google advanced search

Result: False 

If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form.

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Fact check

Prashant Bhushan Does Not Support Islamic Terrorists Nor Did He File A PIL Against Tik Tok Ban

The claims in context are with regard to Prashant Bhushan, an advocate in the SCI and come after his response to Tik Tok India’s contribution of Rs. 30 crore to the PM Cares fund.

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Prashant Bhushan Does Not Support Islamic Terrorists Nor Did He File A PIL Against Tik Tok Ban

Claim

A Facebook post claims that Prashant Bhushan is standing for Tik Tok and has a history of supporting Islamic terrorists and anti-national people. This claim was posted 1 July, 2020 by a Facebook account called राष्ट्रवाद सर्वोपरि.  On checking its page transparency we found that the account was created on 17, May 2020.

Prashant Bhushan is standing for TikTok. प्रशांत भूषण का इतिहास रहा है हमेशा इस्लामिक आतंकवादी और एंटी नेशनल लोगों का साथ देते हैं l 😡

Người đăng: राष्ट्रवाद सर्वोपरि vào Thứ Tư, 1 tháng 7, 2020

Accompanied with this claim is a screenshot of another post from a Twitter account called The Express of India which claims that Bhushan filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court against the government order to ban 59 Chinese apps. 

https://twitter.com/ExpressOfIndia/status/1278187485294505984?s=20

The screenshot from The Express of India is widely circulating on social media platforms since yesterday. Below is an example of another viral image.

Image of viral social media post claiming Prashant Bhushan files PIL against government order of ban on 59 Chinese apps.
Image of viral social media post

Fact Check

The claims in context are with regard to Prashant Bhushan, an advocate in the Supreme Court of India. These claims come after his response to a Twitter post by Tik Tok India which states that it’s making a contribution of Rs. 30 crore to the PM Cares fund. Bhushan’s 30 June tweet says, “Tik Tok’s humble contribution of 30 Crores to humble Chaiwala’s fund! So ungrateful!” 

The first claim in the Facebook post alleges that Bhushan stands for Tik Tok and has a history of supporting Islamic terrorists and anti-national people. We haven’t found any credible evidence or news story which suggests this. Therefore, this claim has no basis to support it. 

The accompanying screenshot is from a parody Twitter account (@ExpressOfIndia) created on 20 April, 2020 with 571 followers at the time of writing this fact check. The description in its profile reads:

“Independent Satire News Outlet. Parody Editorial. All Tweets Are Fake. In Memory Of @TiimesHow.”

This Twitter account impersonates the actual news organisation The Indian Express by trying to copy its logo, font and doing a wordplay with its name. See image comparing the two accounts below:

Image of parody account on the left. Image of authentic news organisation on the right.
Image of parody account on the left. Image of authentic news organisation on the right.

The parody account in its bio pays its “respect” to the now suspended fake account @TiimesHow

Screenshot of suspended Twitter account @TiimesHow
Screenshot of suspended Twitter account @TiimesHow

Implication of “1 particular community” in the tweet is to the Muslim community in reference to recent stories about them using Tik Tok in this pandemic.  

As a final confirmation, we reached out to Mr. Bhushan himself, who clarified on call that he did not file any PIL in the Supreme Court against the government order of banning the 59 Chinese apps and that the claims are false. 

Our other fact checks related to Tik Tok can be read here.

Conclusion 

The claims in context with regard to Prashant Bhushan are false. 

Tools Used 

  • Twitter advanced search
  • Facebook
  • Google advanced search 

Result: False 


If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form.

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