Claim: Many social media posts are claiming that Uttarakhand forests are undergoing through huge fires and the government is not paying attention to it. The post is circulated with many forest fire images claiming to be from the state of Uttarakhand.
The captions of these viral posts says “We prayed for Australia, prayed for Amazon .. But for the last 4 days, the forests of Uttarakhand have been under severe fire .. Time to unite to pray for ‘Devbhoomi’ .. O God, millions of animals will be killed, show compassion to your children #UttarakhandForestFire”
However, these are old images and not linked with Uttarakhand.
Jitin Prasad, (Former Union Minister of State for Steel, Petroleum &Natural Gas , Road Transport & Highways and Human Resource Development. Congress) tweeted the photos (now deleted but archived here)
A lot of users on Twitter are tweeting about the forest fires with a hashtag that is trending called #PrayforUttarakhand and #UttarakhandForestFire.
It's a moment of utter grief for the entire nation as our devbhoomi Uttarakhand faces the forest fire crisis, and the wildlife specifies that reside in the forest are in grave danger. Please #PrayForUttarakhand that this catastrophy stops with no more loss of our flora & fauna. pic.twitter.com/jxKfSur9PI
— Arushi Nishank (@ArushiNishank) May 26, 2020
हमने ऑस्ट्रेलिया के लिए प्रार्थना की, अमेज़न के लिए प्रार्थना की.. लेकिन पिछले 4 दिनों से उत्तराखंड के जंगलों में भयंकर आग लगी हुई है.. वक़्त है एक होकर 'देवभूमि' के लिए प्रार्थना करने की..
हे ईश्वर, लाखों जीव-जंतु मारे जाएंगे, करुणा दिखाइए अपने बच्चों पर🙏#UttarakhandForestFire pic.twitter.com/U1TTPgCaWS
— Prashant Srivastava (@sprashantbjp) May 26, 2020
The same old images were viral on Facebook too and with captions that read, “Another disaster without cutting the relish of the disastrous 2020. Terrible fire in the forest of #Uttarakhand. Four different fires have happened so far. Approx 5-6 hectares of land has been burned.- sources- #PrayForUttarakhand” with 500 plus shares.
However, these images being shared on social media platforms are old images and videos and not related to 2020’s forest fires.
Press Information Bureau of Uttarakhand made an official statement about the viral posts stating that these are indeed fake and misleading pictures.
सोशल मीडिया में दिखाया जा रहा है कि उत्तराखंड के जंगलों में आग बढ़ती जा रही है लेकिन सरकार इस पर ध्यान नहीं दे रही है|@PIBFactCheck : दिखायी जा रही तस्वीरे पुरानी हैं तथा इनमें से कई दूसरे देशों से संबंधित हैं| कृपया ऐसी भ्रामक खबरों से सावधान रहें|@PIBHindi @tsrawatbjp pic.twitter.com/3I4ywVUwJ8
— PIB in Uttarakhand (@PIBDehradun) May 27, 2020
The archive is here.
PIB’s tweet translated to English says, “It is being shown in social media that fire is increasing in the forests of Uttarakhand, but the government is not paying attention to it.@PIBFactCheck : The pictures shown are old and many of them belong to other countries. Please beware of such misleading news.”
Along with the PIB, even the official account of Uttarakhand Forest Department tweeted about the same denying the rumours. The tweet read, “Fake news of forest fire 2020 in Uttarakhand are being circulated on social media. After verification of such images it has been found that these images are fake. Few such images are being uploaded by us. It is our request to kindly do not spread fake news.”
Both the official handles clearly mentioned that these images are old and also attached proof of old news articles from 2016 and 2017. One image used in the viral post is indeed from Uttarakhand but that forest fire had happened in 2016 as mentioned by Aaj Tak.
The collage below shows the image used in the viral post on the left and the old picture from Aaj Tak‘s coverage from 2016.
On reverse-searching few images, old news reports from 2017 can be seen mentioning the forest fires in Chile and including the image used in these viral posts.
The collage below shows the image used in the viral post on the left and the old picture from an article from 2017 in the right.