By Soumadip Dey
Claim: A post has gone viral on social media which claims that a Congress Leader was caught with twenty crore (200 million) rupees in Karnataka. He was allegedly supposed to handover the cash to the JD-S, presumably in return for political support.
What Happened: The post in Hindi translates to:
"Rahul Gandhi's leader caught in Karnataka with 20 crore rupees which he was going to give to J.D.S. The party was made yesterday and today corruption starts."
The post has been shared by several right wing groups and pages, like Narendra Modi Followers, Yogi Adityanath - True Indian, and IndiaViral. Some of these posts received tens of thousands of shares and reactions. The post was also shared by many social media users on Twitter.
Facts: These pictures are far from recent. Earlier in April they were shared with the exact opposite claim by the Facebook page of the I.T & Social media cell of the Congress Party. It was shared in Hindi translating to:
"A BJP worker was caught transporting black money worth 120 crore rupees at Tippanahalli in Karnataka. The person confessed that this money was to be used in the upcoming assembly election in the state. All the 2000 rupee notes that have vanished from ATMs are with the BJP."
This post has gotten close to fifty thousand shares, and over fifteen hundred comments, so far on Facebook.
However, both these narratives are completely false. The pictures used are from two separate incidents and can be fact-checked by a simple reverse search on Google.
The first picture of the two policemen with a man in a purple shirt is from a news article that was published on the 18th of April, 2018.
The Tamil news article stated that a private bus, smuggling currency notes worth 120 crore from Andhra Pradesh to Karnataka, was intercepted by the police. Nowhere in the story is the political affiliation of the accused commented on, or even mentioned.
The other photographs of currency notes are from an IT raid. According to news articles, the raid was carried out on an NSE broker in Delhi in November 2017.
Conclusion: While political parties have been making false and misleading allegations against each other for decades, technology combined with social media has made it practically elementary to stitch together a convincing looking story by using unrelated images gleaned from the media, and they continue to do so, despite it being both unethical and immoral.
Most average social media users will take these claims at face value and share them accordingly, lending them credibility through sheer numbers, which is what the originators are counting on.