Pictures from a campaign against potholes on roads in Malda, West Bengal is viral claiming it shows the condition of roads in Uttar Pradesh and in Chattisgarh.
The viral photos show a man, wearing a helmet and sitting in a pothole including one where he is sitting in a mock meditation pose, in a bid to highlight the size of the potholes and the condition of the roads. Social media users are sharing the photos with some claiming it is from Uttar Pradesh and others claiming it shows the condition of roads in Bilaspur.
BOOM found that the viral photos are from Malda in West Bengal and were shot as a campaign against potholes in the area by one Sangeet Roy, a college student and resident of English Bazaar area.
Facebook users have posted the pictures with the caption,''Despite the Government who promised to bring good days, they are themselves in a bad situation. #Potholes_Free_UttarPradesh'' (Original text in Hindi:''गढही में भी नियम क ख्याल बा,अच्छे दिन वालन क भयल बुरा हाल बा। #गड्ढा_मुक्त_उत्तरप्रदेश'')
Pankhuri Pathak, vice chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Congress shared the fake claim on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Another user replied to Pathak claiming the photos are from Bilaspur, basing his claim on an Instagram post by Bilaspur Mirror which used the same photos.
View an archive of the post here.
BOOM found that the photos are from Malda in West Bengal and not from Uttar Pradesh or Chattisgarh.
A keyword search led us to a report by a Bengali newspaper Bartaman Patrika dated October 19, 2019 about a college student from English Bazaar in Malda who posed in and around a pothole to highlight the bad condition of roads in the city.
The article in Bengali mentions that residents of Malda are concerned about the deteriorating condition of roads, following which pictures of a resident from English Bazaar went viral. The article says, "In one of the pictures, it is seen that the student of Gaurbanga College is sitting by the hole of the approach road."
We also found a news report by Dhaka18, a Bangladesh based news publication which identified the student as a Sangeet Roy (সঙ্গীত রায়). The report says residents of English Bazar, Malda and Old Malda are worried after an approach road to a bridge connecting the city on both sides of the Mahananda river in West Bengal collapsed.
We looked through Facebook using specific keywords and found the Facebook profile of Sangeet Roy, who had shared a total of six images from the same incident in October, 2019. On Facebook, Roy identifies himself as a resident of English Bazar area in Malda.
Archived version is here.
The captions and the comments in the images written in Bengali refer to local places in Malda region in West Bengal. Roy in his post identified the places as Bypass road, Sukanta More. BOOM verified that the names mentioned in the caption are locations in English Bazaar area of Malda and most of them on the Bypass road, Mangalbari bridge.
One of the images shared by Roy has hoarding and several visual clues that the location is West Bengal. The image has West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's picture on the top left corner of the frame, and one banner on the top right corner of the frame has Malda written on the billboard.
BOOM has reached out to Roy and the copy will be updated upon a response.
Additional reporting: Sk Badiruddin
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