Noted documentary filmmakers and professors at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Prof. Anjali Monteiro and Prof. K.P Jayasankar, were on Saturday caught in the midst of a fake news post directed against two Palghar-based activists — Pradeep Prabhu and Shiraz Balsara — with regards to the recent lynching, after their photos were used in it.
Post gone viral
While the content of the post was against Mr. Prabhu and Ms. Balsara, the photos used were of the two professors. Prof. Monteiro said they had been intimated about the post by a Facebook friend and were shocked to see their photos. “We reported the post, but Facebook reporting doesn’t give much leeway as you can only report them under certain categories. We reported it thrice under but got a message saying that the photo did not go against the community guidelines,” she said. The post was finally removed around 7.30 p.m. after being online for around seven hours and getting over 200 shares.
It was posted by a Shatrughan Singh Chandel, whose profile picture was that of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. The profile had no personal details or the location of the person and had 4,985 ‘friends’ and was followed by 24,818 people.
Though the profile was also taken down along with the original post, versions of the post later surfaced on Twitter and other Facebook profiles with the same photos of Prof. Monteiro and Prof. Jayasankar.
The post targeted Mr. Prabhu, the founder Kashtakari Sanghatana, a prominent organisation working for rights of adivasis in Palghar, and Ms. Balsara, who has also been associated with the organisation until recently. It claimed that the two were trying to get bail for the accused in the lynching case as they were Christian and the duo head a Christian organisation.
‘Not a Christian outfit’
“The post is completely false. Kashtakari Sanghatana has never been a Christian organisation and we have not been involved in trying to get bail for the accused. The village owes allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party and even the sarpanch is from the party. The Sanghatna has never worked in the concerned villages,” Ms. Balsara, said. She said both she and her husband, Mr. Prabhu, had not been active in the Sanghatana over the last few years and Mr. Prabhu is completely retired and house bound.