All The Fake News Spread By The Indian Media On Afghanistan

Most of our fact checks on media outlets were on old and unrelated videos being falsely reported as showing recent instances from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Taliban's swift takeover of Afghanistan in August has not only dominated the news cycle ever since, but has also been a hot topic of misinformation.

Looking through more than 25 fact-checks done by BOOM in English, Hindi and Bangla, we found another trend - a growing number of misreporting, or false reporting, coming from the mainstream media. This included news websites and television channels of national and regional media outlets.

Since August 18, we have written five fact checks on misreporting by mainstream media outlets, and two other fact checks on highly popular hyperlocal online news outlets.

We also noticed a clear trend of media outlets running unrelated and unverified videos and images, with claims of showing live coverage or recent instances from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Out of these seven fact checks, six of them were on old and unrelated videos being falsely reported as showing recent instances from the neighbouring country.

Mainstream Misreporting Spree

The most fact checked mainstream media outlets during this period were News18 Bangla, Republic TV, WION and Zee Hindustan.

Also Read: Sudarshan News Makes False Communal Claim On TN Corporal Punishment Incident

ABP News, Aaj Tak, Amar Ujala, Dainik Bhaskar and India Today were also found pushing out misleading content through their respective channels.

The Fact Checks

1. Digital Creation Shared As Afghan Escaping On An Aircraft Wing

One of the first fact checks to come, after Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, was a video showing a man lying on the turbine engine of a flying aircraft. This video went viral after news reports of two men clinging on to a United States military aircraft, as it took off from Kabul airport, and eventually falling to their demise, went viral on the internet.

As this video was shared with the misleading captions on WhatsApp, it was eventually picked up by News18 Bangla, who ran it during a news segment.

We found that the man in the video was doctored into a digitally created video by a Vietnamese TikTok artist.

Read our story here.

2. Indian News Channels Run Old Photos, Videos As Kabul Airport Terror Attack

On August 26, two bomb attacks at Kabul airport targeted people desperate to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban's takeover of the country. The death toll from the attack rose to 170, and included mostly civilians along with some US military personnel.

Following this, several mainstream Indian media outlets aired old images, and an old video of an airstrike in Palestine's Gaza as LIVE visuals of Kabul airport hit by the deadly bomb attacks.

News outlets India Today, Times Now, Wion News, Republic TV, Zee News, and News 18 Bangla either aired or tweeted the older images as LIVE visuals from Kabul airport during the attacks.

News channels India Today and News 18 Banglan aired the video of airstrikes on the Gaza strip as the Kabul blasts.

Read our story here.

3. Indian Media Falsely Claim Man Suspended From Helicopter Was Executed By Taliban

Another video surfaced last week, showing a man dangling from a helicopter. This clip was shared by people with the claim that it shows a barbaric execution by the Taliban, since they came back to power.

This clip was shared by Zee News Editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary and was later picked up and shared by media outlets Aaj Tak, News 24, News 18, WION News, Navbharat Times, Dainik Bhaskar, Amar Ujala, Zee Hindustan, ABP News, Republic TV, along with right-wing website OpIndia.

NDTV also did a curation of the video and ran it as a story.

We were able to establish that the main hanging from the helicopter was not being executed. A clearer version of the video on the internet showed that he was hanging from a harness and not a noose, and was waving his hands.

Read our story here.

4. Zee Hindustan Runs Old Video As Minors Fighting Taliban In Panjshir

Last week, Hindi news channel Zee Hindustan aired a one-year-old video of a minor girl in a colourful head scarf firing from a machine gun and laughing at the camera.

The channel aired the video in a live telecast, and falsely claimed that it showed children in the Panjshir province of Afghanistan, the only area not in Taliban control, taking up weapons and firing at the Taliban.

Read our story here.

5. Taliban Trying To Fly US Helicopter? No, It's An Old Video

Following the Taliban's takeover of the Hamid Kirzai International Airport after the US completed its withdrawal of troops, there were news reports of the Taliban seizing Chinook helicopters left by the US. The US later claimed that they had destroyed all the equipments before leaving the airport.

Following this, several videos of the Taliban fighters entering a hangar in Kabul and examining Chinook helicopters, have emerged.

Bengali news channel Zee 24 Ghanta shared one such video, showing an uncontrolled defense helicopter moving on land, with the claim that it is a US helicopter being salvaged by the Taliban.

We found the video to be at least one year old, and unrelated to the withdrawal of US troops amidst Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan.

While we could not ascertain independently where the video originated from, we found several Russian news reports carrying the same video, placing it in Lybia. We have reached out to an expert who also tweeted out the video saying it's Libya.

Read our story here.

6. Republic TV Runs Video Game Clip As Pakistani Airforce Attacking Panjshir

On Monday, the Taliban claimed that they had captured the anti-Taliban resistance at Panjshir valley. Soon after, several Indian news outlets reported that Pakistani military, particularly its air force, had helped the Taliban against the resistance fighters.

In the midst of this, we found television channels Republic TV, Zee Hindustan and Times Now Navbharat shared a video from a military tactical shooting video game called Arma-3, and ran it as a real footage of Pakistani air force conducting air strikes on Panjshir valley.

Read our story here.

7. India Today Airs Old Photo Of US Jet Crash As Pak Jet Downed In Panjshir

In yet another gaffe on reporting on the fight between Taliban and the Northern Alliance, India Today ran an old photo of a US F-16 Fighting Falcon that had crash landed during a routine training flight in Arizona, United States, falsely claiming that it showed a Pakistani fighter jet shot down by resistance fighters in Panjshir.

Read our story here.

8. Times Now Airs Video From Wales As Pak Fighter Jet Over Panjshir

Times Now ran an old video from Wales, United Kingdom of a United State Air Force (USAF) fighter jet training in the mountains, claiming it shows Pakistani fighter jets helping Taliban weaken the resistance in Panjshir valley of Afghanistan.

BOOM found that the video shows the USAF's F-15 fighter jet from the RAF Lakenheath, one of the few US operated airbases in the UK training in the Mach Loop region - a series of valleys in Wales, known for their use by military agencies as a training ground for low-level flying of fast jet aircraft.

Read our story here.

Hyperlocal Fakery

Mainstream media outlets were not the only ones to misreport on this Afghan crisis. Two popular hyperlocal media outlets in Bengal were also found sharing misleading or fabricated content.

Online news outlet Aab Tak shared a video of people dancing with guns with the claim that it showed Taliban militants dancing. The video was actually from March this year, and showed people dancing at a wedding in the Khyber-Pakhtunwa region of Pakistan.

Another local online news outlet Calcutta News shared a video, that is at least a year old, as a recent instance of Taliban militant jumping on a trampoline.

BOOM has been debunking viral misinformation and disinformation since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. You can view our fact-check articles in the thread below.


Updated On: 2021-10-18T17:26:42+05:30
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