To cover up the flop visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Nations General Assembly and meet the US leadership, Indian social media picked up steam, churning out a fake interview of the head of the largest democracy to the New York Times.
Images of the Indian Prime Minister’s huge portrait on the upper half of the main page of the New York Times went viral on Indian social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp groups with praise being lavished on the premier and for making India proud.
The screenshot featured a large photograph of PM Modi along with the headline “Last, Best Hope of Earth” and the strap “World’s most loved and most powerful leader is here to bless us”, referring to Modi’s US visit on September 24-25. The edition is dated September 26, 2021.
The image of the purported NYT front page was circulated en masse on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp group chats, with messages like “Proud of my PM” accompanying it.
Read more: Hypocrisy of Modi’s Secular India
One of the widely shared WhatsApp groups forwarded the photograph with a caption: “Modi ji on the front page of the United States’ biggest newspaper. What could be a greater matter of pride than this?”
Unlike Prime Minister Imran Khan who was on the front page of Newsweek, and is the most sought-after world leader by the international media, Prime Minister Modi got a blunt ‘ignore; from the US media.
The front page of the original New York Times paper of September 26 in fact did not carry any story on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The social media posts did not share any link to the purported post, while even a cursory glance at the image clearly showed that it has been doctored.
The font of the headline in the fake image did not match the New York Times stylesheet, while the date of the story featured a typo — “26 Setember” instead of 26 September.
The image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi first appeared in a news story published by the Zee News last month; “PM Modi to chair UNSC high-level open debate on enhancing maritime security.”
Read more: Fiery clash at UN as Pakistan, India trade extremism charges
The fake news on social media handles created an uproar in India where Modi’s critics lambasted the BJP for yet another fake news item.
Over the years, the pattern of churning out fake news from Indian media and its social media handles being operated by its intelligence network places it among the most unreliable categories.
A Twitter handle @PeaceMonger143 commenting on the fake news said “It’s ain’t New York time, it’s New #yogi times. It’s not Last Hope but After #Modi india 𝗟𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗛𝗼𝗽𝗲.”
According to Jitendra K Biswal @JBiswal “I’ve never seen a more lowly & mean entity than the BJP IT Cell. To show their “mai-baap” Modi in good light, they don’t even hesitate to create a fake New York Times cover story. And, who cares if in all their hurry, they write the date of the publication as SETPEMBER 26, 2021..”
I've never seen a more lowly & mean entity than the BJP IT Cell. To show their "mai-baap" Modi in good light, they don't even hesitate to create a fake New York Times cover story. And, who cares if in all their hurry, they write the date of the publication as SETPEMBER 26, 2021.. pic.twitter.com/xU1CfDEY3Z
— Jitendra K Biswal 🇮🇳 (@JBiswal) September 27, 2021
Recent fake reports about the use of Pakistan Air Force aircraft to fight the National Resistance against the Taliban in Panjshir valley were picked up by top international news channels for the world to know how reality was being distorted by the Indian media.
The disclosures by the EU Disinfo Lab explicitly showed how the country created fake media outlets to create fake news to achieve its objectives and target regional countries like China and Pakistan.
Read more: India, Pakistan lambast PM Modi over Arnab Goswami, Balakot strike leaks
In reality, large protests were held in the United States against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
@bujjusreeni Why did you delete your fake-news tweet on huge audience for Modi at UN? Here is the attendance during Modi's UN speech & his reception in the US. pic.twitter.com/ri87I8o2WQ
— Sabina Basha 🇵🇸 (@SabinaBasha) September 27, 2021