Several old images are being circulated as results of Balakot airstrike by Indian Air Force

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A widely shared set of images across social media claims to be proof of Indian Air Force’s airstrike over Balakot, a town in Mansehra District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, on February 26th – a resultant of the escalating tension between India and Pakistan.

One of the Facebook posts, with several pictures of dead body-bags and mass graves wrote:

“कितने सबूत पेश किए जाए। ये भी देखो सवूत।
में आपको लास दिखाने के लिए पोस्ट नही करता। ये पोस्ट शेयर करके अंडरकवर पाकिस्तानी एजेंट तक पहुंचने के लिए है।“

Which loosely translates to:
“How many proofs should be presented? See this also as proof.
I’m not showing you the dead bodies. This post is to be shared until it reaches even the undercover Pakistani agents.”

 

The attack performed as the aftermath to Pakistani terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohummad claimed suicide bombing attack in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed 40 CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) constables. Kashmir and the LoC (Line of Control) has been a highly armed conflict zone for a long time between India and Pakistan.
The Balakot airstrike although a reality, the images stand to be wrongly used.

THE TRUTH:

None of the viral images are from this year i.e. 2019, after Air Strike. These all are from different years, natural disasters like earthquake, heat wave and bomb blasts.

Related to the same incidents, mass graves were dug to bury almost 300 bodies out of the 1300 deceased. Some images were also used as examples of mass graves of the deceased of the Balakot airstike.

 

Khas Khabar – कराची। पिछले साल पाकिस्तान की पोर्ट सिटी कराची प्रचंड गर्मी की चपेट में थी, और इसकी वजह से 1,300 लोग मौत के मुंह में समा गए थे। इतनी बडी तादादा में मौतों से सबके लेते हुए इस बार पाकिस्तान प्रशासन ने एक कब्र खोदने वाले शख्स को तैनात किया है। तीन बड़े कब्र खोदे गए हैं जिनमें 300 से ज्यादा शवों को दफनाया जा सकता है।

A few images from a 2013 bombing by a Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in the Quetta city of Pakistan were also used. 90 people were killed in this incident and demanding correction of governmental inaction, relatives of the deceased had refused to bury the bodies for three days after the attack. One of the mass grave images were taken from that incident as well.

 

Above images source – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/24/pakistan-heatwave-death-toll-rises-temperatures-begin-fall

Most of the images used in the fake posts circulating across all platforms of social media are actually from 2015, where mass deaths occurred in Pakistan owing to a raging heatwave.

CNN report of 2015 shows a morgue in Pakistan after the raging heatwave

Owing to the high level of communal tension and misplaced sense of nationalism, many propagandists are trying to weave several misleading news to fuel people’s emotions.

No images related to the airstrike have been released for the public yet, nor is it probable to happen in the near future. Even though ethically it is wrong to tamper with such high-risk national security issues, some parties will continue doing so to spread a sense of resentment to play it to their political advantage.

Several other such posts have been doing the round of social media. Among them are images from November 2nd, 2014’s Wagah border suicide bombing attack and an image from March 2006, where 80 people were killed by a Pakistani military airstrike on one religious school along Afghan borders.

The 2014 Wagah border attack as reported in Dawn
The 2014 Wagah border attack as reported in India Today
The 2006 New York Times report on Pakistani airstrike along Afghan borders
The 2014 Wagah border attack as reported on Yahoo

 

Last week one more such set of photos were viral which actually were from 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. It was also cleared by SMHoaxSlayer

 

Some fake WhatsApp chats have also been circulated as screenshots to falsely prove the death count and other facts about the Balakot airstrike. It has already been debunked by AltNews.

According to their report, these screenshots were initially shared by Twitter user Shekhar Chahal who also later post it on Facebook. Chahal is foolwed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.

The content of the chat, apart from being fabricated also featured erroneous Urdu which gave the truth away easily. Also none of the claims were verifiable. The Balakot Medical University that Chahal’s friend in the chat claims to be associated with is fictional and the link he provided does not mention anything about the university.

The AltNews report calling out Chahal’s post

However, once we looked for the tweets in question, they were not found, although there are digital photographic proofs of it and his Facebook post is still up.

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Sucharita Ganguly

Pursuing Masters in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune. Graduated with Mass Communication and Videography from St. Xavier's (Autonomous) College, Kolkata. Avid reader. Film enthusiast. Animal lover.