A public Facebook group named 'Bandh Karo JNU, shut JNU' (#बंद_करो_JNU #shut_jnu ) is providing a platform for those opposed to the protests by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students, to vent their disapproval through misinformation and deeply misogynistic posts.
The group created by one Anil Srivastava on November 17, 2019 had 258 members at the time of writing the story. In the past 30 days its members - majority of whom are men - have generated 444 anti-student posts.
The group's posts alternate between showing pictures of young people kissing, protesters getting beaten, random pictures of women with either alcohol or condoms, fake posts about the ages of students and angry rants by the admins of the group.
Students of the public varsity have been protesting since the end of October demanding a complete rollback of a draft hostel manual which proposes a hostel fee hike and changes to dress code and curfew timings. Learn more about the protests here.
The protests have evoked strong reactions online. The university has developed a reputation for fostering liberal left leaning dissenting voices. It counts noted alumni across the political spectrum such as Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman,
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and young politicians such as Kanhaiya Kumar and Shehla Rashid.
The university's critics - mainly the Hindutva right-wing - however, see it as a breeding ground for communists and secessionists, often referring to its students with disparaging names such as 'Tukde Tukde Gang' and 'Urban Naxals'.
The protests took a turn for the worse when Swami Vivekananda statue at the university was vandalised. Misinformation entered the mix on November 18, 2019 when Delhi police lathi charged students who were marching to the parliament with their demands.
The misinformation has largely been designed to portray the students as promiscuous freeloaders, with the worst of it directed toward female students.
This is also the underlying theme of nearly all of the posts on the group 'Bandh Karo JNU, shut JNU'.
A provocative photo of a woman sipping from a heart-shaped straw in a condom has been posted with a derogatory caption aimed at students. A search for the photo shows it is not related to JNU and can be found on various sleazy websites.
Another photo, posted without a caption, shows a woman with alcohol and cigarettes. A reverse image search shows the first instance of the image online was 2015. Furthermore, there is nothing to suggest it is related to JNU. Read more about the image here.
Misogyny Gives Way To Misinformation
An image of CPI politician and women's rights activist Annie Raja being detained by the police during a protest against former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s acquittal of sexual harassment charges in May 2019 was falsely shared as police arresting a student. Read BOOM's fact-check here.
The group also shared a photoshopped iamge of Kanhaiya Kumar, former president of Jawharlal Nehru University’s student union striking an animated pose with a map in the background that shows Kashmir as a part of Pakistan. Read the fact-check here.
Overwhelmingly, the group's posts are aimed at entrenching the perception that the university's students are promiscuous.