Kerala battles fake news along with floods

Army issues warning as video of an imposter in camouflage uniform spreading disinformation goes viral

August 20, 2018 12:03 am | Updated 12:58 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The Indian Army has issued a warning against a fake video in which a man wearing Army combat uniform is seen making statements against the way the Kerala Government is carrying out the flood rescue effort. According to a tweet posted by the Twitter page of Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army, the man is an imposter who is spreading disinformation about the rescue and relief efforts in Kerala.

In the video, the man who identifies himself as an Army officer, speaks disparagingly of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for not handing over the rescue efforts completely to the Indian Army.

The video which began appearing in various online pages on Saturday night, was uploaded to multiple pages in a short time. The most shares were from the page of 'Bharatiya Mahila Morcha Thalassery constituency', from where it was shared close to 28,000 times and liked by 6600 people. The video had also gone viral in WhatsApp since last night. The Indian Army has appealed to the public to forward disinformation about Indian Army on WhatsApp to +917290028579.


Audio clip triggers row

Meanwhile, another viral audio clip by one Suresh Kochattil has also kicked up a controversy.

In the audio clip, a text version of which is posted on his Facebook page too, he is heard saying that most of the people who were impacted by the floods in Kerala are from well to do families. He claimed that they do not need any handouts and there is more than what is required in Kerala now. He can be also heard casting doubt on the fund utilisation from the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund, and requesting people to contribute to “organisations like Seva Bharathi” instead.

The audio clip in English, which has been spread in WhatsApp groups outside the State too, led to all-round condemnation from people who have been involved in the rescue and relief efforts over the past few days.

Even as the State has been going through an unprecedented disaster, there has also been a deluge of fake information in WhatsApp groups. The fake messages ranged from stories about bursting of dams to fake calls for rescue. The volume of fake information was so much that the Chief Minister had to issue a warning to those involved in such activities to abstain from spreading misinformation on WhatsApp and social media networks.

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