Yesterday, the news of Maleeha Lodi flashing the picture of Rawia Abu Joma’a, mistaking it for a pellet victim became viral. The shoddy homework of the Pakistani staff at the UN resulted in an uproar in India and Kashmir. In India, the gaffe was used by many prominent journalists who called it ‘failed propaganda’, while in Kashmir, the disappointment at the Pakistan staff for using a wrong image, when there are thousands available online.
After doing a reverse image search on Google. One comes to know that it was Kashmir’s newspapers that used the particular image for pellet victims. The culprits include the biggest news publication, the Greater Kashmir that used this image in its opinion page earlier this year. It has also been used by the Rising Kashmir, another major news publication based in Srinagar. Before that, it were the little-known portals such as the Kashmir Despatch. But the first Kashmir newspaper that utilised the image was the Kashmir Observer in July last year.
Despite having major resources, these publications did not bother to check the veracity of the image that has been used. The consequence is that an image of Rawya, that had shrapnel wounds after the Israeli bombings, was used to depict victims of different horror. The images were shared widely on the social media, and nobody took notice.
The problem of fake news is that it takes the attention away from the real stories. It undermines the atrocities and focuses attention on the credibility of the news. Hence it becomes even more important for journalists and media organisations to be careful while reporting on the conflict.
In situations like these, fake images mix up with the real ones. It’s difficult to ascertain their veracity. That’s when it’s more important to filter them out as soon as they come up.
Insha Malik, the fourteen-year-old girl became the face of India’s blinding criminality in Kashmir. Her face marred with pellets, and her eyes that have turned dark is a symbol of India’s oppression and also the Kashmiri resistance against it.
The Indian media may prefer their criminal silence, as they have to project PR for their state’s oppression. The deafening silence and the whitewashing of the crimes by celebrating a ‘gaffe’ by a Pakistani diplomat. They have yet again proved, they are not neutral when it comes to Kashmir. They will focus on mistakes but not admit and acknowledge the crimes of the state.
While the competition among the media organisations at the Press Colony and online, is high and dirty. One must not forget that by projecting a false truth, we are doing a disservice to our profession. Not to forget, to our people.
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Links to the portals with the wrong pictures cited above: