A piece of news widely reported in the media said that the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UPSTF) has directed its personnel and their family members to delete 52 Chinese applications from their mobile phones for security reasons. The advisory came as tensions with China have escalated in the past few weeks, leading to the death of at least 20 Indian army soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
Following these reports, government-affiliated PIB Fact Check tweeted that no such advisory has been issued by the UP STF. “A claim viral on social media says that STF has advised against the use of certain apps. This news is false. STF has not issued any such advisory. (सोशल मीडिया पर वायरल एक संदेश में एसटीएफ द्वारा कुछ ऐप का प्रयोग नहीं किए जाने का दावा किया जा रहा है. #PIBFactCheck: खबर झूठ है, एसटीएफ द्वारा ऐसी कोई एडवाइजरी जारी नहीं की गई है.)” – tweeted PIB Fact Check while adding a “fake news” stamp on a screenshot of a broadcast by Bharat Samachar (BSTV).
सोशल मीडिया पर वायरल एक संदेश में एसटीएफ द्वारा कुछ ऐप का प्रयोग नहीं किए जाने का दावा किया जा रहा है#PIBFactCheck: खबर झूठ है, एसटीएफ द्वारा ऐसी कोई एडवाइजरी जारी नहीं की गई है pic.twitter.com/ittgwiAjYb
— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) June 19, 2020
Fact-checking PIB Fact Check
As it turns out, yet again, PIB Fact Check’s ‘fact-check’ is incorrect.
UP STF indeed ordered an advisory directing its staff and their kin to delete 52 Chinese apps from their phones. This was confirmed to Alt News by IG STF Amitabh Yash. Furthermore, the order was tweeted by several journalists including UP-based reporter Piyush Rai.
UP STF IG Amitabh Yash issues order to STF personnel to remove dubious Chinese apps from their mobile phones which could be stealing data and other sensitive personal information. pic.twitter.com/mmjOfzv2Rl
— Piyush Rai (@Benarasiyaa) June 19, 2020
Journalists Prashant Srivastava, Qazi Faraz Ahmad and Sachin Gupta also said that IG Yash and other STF officials confirmed that the internal order was issued.
UP-based news outlet BSTV, whose screenshot was featured in PIB’s tweet, shared a video where the advisory is seen pinned to the notice board of the STF office. The complete broadcast of the channel can be watched here. BSTV specifies during the show that the order was issued by UP police.
लखनऊ में STF मुख्यालय के नोटिस बोर्ड में सम्बंधित ऍप्स की लिस्ट चस्पा की गई है। रिपोर्टर ने मुख्यालय से इसका वीडियो ब्योरा भी भेजा है। उम्मीद है PIB फैक्ट चेक कोई भी ट्वीट करने से पहले अपने फैक्ट ज़रूर चेक करेगी। अपेक्षा है की PIB फैक्ट चेक टीम अपने मूल ट्वीट को डिलीट करेगा। https://t.co/KZcC9pvj1N pic.twitter.com/BZnZM7iOjl
— भारत समाचार (@bstvlive) June 19, 2020
Furthermore, there are several videos of the statement given by ADG Prashant Kumar where he informs about the advisory.
STF आईजी ने सव्ही कर्मचारियों को दिए निर्देश 52 चाइनीज़ एप्प मोबाइल से हटाए ... ADG कानून व्यवस्था @PrashantK_IPS90 का बयान असुरक्षित एप्प से जरूरी फ़ाइल हो सकती है चोरी pic.twitter.com/ZuwuAN1gYi
— Gagan Mishra (@gaganishere) June 19, 2020
The media rightly reported that an internal advisory was ordered by the UP STF however, PIB Fact Check declared the reports “fake news”. PIB has emerged as the latest tool for bullying journalists and the press. During reports of migrant workers losing their lives in Shramik special trains, PIB declared in mere sentences that the workers (or their deceased family members) suffered from pre-existing conditions. PIB did not provide any medical records and termed media reports as “fake news” despite the kin of the workers stating that the deceased were not previously ill. Our elaborate reports this topic can be read here and here.