On Sunday, an audio clip in which an imposter in army combat uniform had been spreading misinformation about the rescue and relief efforts, was found doing the rounds in various WhatsApp groups. In the video, the man who introduced himself as an army officer, spoke degrading the state’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan for not handing over the complete control of the rescue operations to the Indian army. Soon, the video shared through Whatsapp and Facebook. Even the Facebook page of Bharatiya Mahila Morcha of Thalassery constituency shared it and nearly 28,000 people have shared this misinformation from this page. The Bharatiya Mahila Morcha is the women’s wing of the BJP.
However, Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of MoD (Army) tweeted regarding the same and urged the citizens to abstain from forwarding such misinformation about the army.
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Though the Army has revealed the truth in this matter, this incident is not the single one spreading the hate campaign against Kerala. Another voice clip in English discrediting the whole relief and rescue efforts has also gone viral. The voice clip by Suresh Kochattil has been spread even outside the state since it is in English. In the voice clip, Suresh can be heard saying that most of the flood-affected people in Kerala are from well-to-do families. He further claimed that those people do not need any helping hands and there is more than what is required in the state now. The man who placed doubts on the utilisation of the chief minister’s Disaster Relief Fund, however, requested the people to contribute to organisations like Seva Bharathi, an RSS affiliated organisation.
Suresh Kochattl who describes himself as working at “Social Media at BJP” on his Facebook page, was the head of the Hyderabad chapter of Modi’s social media campaign. The person in the core circle of the right wing was also a key member behind the making of the NaMo brand.
Earlier, an audio clip of a man, who claimed to be stuck in chest-deep water in Ernakulam district of the state and urged everyone in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts to move away to safer destinations as a leak had been spotted in the Mullaperiyar dam, had been circulated. When the message was being circulated widely, the Idukki district collector- where the Mullaperiyar dam is located- reported to the media: “All the news about the safety of the dam is absolutely baseless and unfounded and I wish to state that there are no such issues at all. The state government has now decided to take action against all those who spread fake news.”
Even the chief minister had issued a stern warning to those spreading fake news about the floods and the conditions of dams in the state and misusing social media. “I wish to inform all that the state government will now take every strict action against such people,” Pinarayi Vijayan had said.
As fake news continues to be spread, many have taken to Twitter and Facebook to spit out their hatred against the people of Kerala. Here are some random tweets that can actually lead to an escalation of hate: “More than half the state are Muslims and Christians.”; “People should stop donating to Kerala and let these fucking leftists die.” and “I request North Indians not to donate a single penny to these beef eaters.”
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An author from the right wing camp, Rajiv Malhotra also joined in the row tweeting, “Please donate to help Kerala Hindus. Christians & Muslims worldwide are raising lots of money to help mainly their own people & agencies.” While some including RBI official S. Gurumurthy connected it with Sabarimala.
As a section of people are trying to give a communal colour to this natural calamity and degrade the collective effort of the state machinery, some have started that in the flood-affected areas. The RSS affiliated Sewa Bharati which raises fund in the name of helping the affected has launched few services all across the state. However, “We offer blankets exclusively for Hindu families,” is what the Sewa Bharati volunteers replied when one of the camp coordinators from Pulpally of Wayanad district had called them seeking some help. While all other organisations and political parties are there in the affected areas, helping hand-in-hand with the government machinery.
Except for these Sangh affiliated brigades, the natural calamity has affected the collective conscience of a large section of the people across the world. So far, many- including the foreign countries U.A.E and Qatar- have stood up with the state which is reviving back to normal.