On the 13th of December, AltNews’ out-on-bail fact-checker, who fancied himself as winning the Nobel prize (which also turned out to be fake news) shared a video of Karnataka BJP MLA Preetam Gowda. In the tweet where he shared the video, Mohammad Zubair said, “BJP MLA Preetam Gowda from Hassan, Karnataka warns Muslims of not taking up any development work if they do not vote for him in the coming elections”.
BJP MLA Preetam Gowda from Hassan, Karnataka warns Muslims of not taking up any development work if they do not vote for him in the coming elections. pic.twitter.com/6L3Psf0QFx
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) December 13, 2022
An archived version of the tweet can be found here.
The insinuation made by AltNews’ “fact-checker” Mohammad Zubair was that the BJP MLA essentially threatened the Muslims of the area by claiming that if they do not vote for him in the upcoming elections, he would ensure that no development work would take place in the area.
When one looks at the complete video, however, what Preetam Gowda said is completely different from what Zubair claimed.
“You will call us Anna, but you do not vote for us. It will make anybody angry. Will you not get angry if you do not get wages for the work you did? Do not you think I will also get upset if you say do not vote for BJP even after carrying out several developmental projects? I am making it simple so that even children can understand. I have always treated you as my family, and continue to do. However, we (politicians) may come to the conclusion there is no point in helping as they will not help us even after carrying out several developmental projects. It is your responsibility to ensure that we do not come to such a conclusion“, he said.
“You have cheated me thrice. In the next six months, the elections will be held. If you do not help me again then, I will also be the same and I will not be available to you. If you come to my house, I will offer coffee and send you back. Water, road and drainage work will be done as it is my duty, but I will not be there for your personal work”, he continued.
The full video of Preetam Gowda’s speech can be found here:
It is clear from the video and the transcript of his speech that he did not say that he will withhold development work in the area, instead, he said he will not be doing personal favours for them. The BJP MLA categorically says, “Water, road and drainage work will be done as it is my duty, but I will not be there for your personal work”.
What the Muslims of the area said about the speech by BJP MLA Preetam Gowda
Local Muslims countered the misleading claims essentially confirming that Mohammad Zubair was peddling fake news.
The Muslim man in the video says, “Preetham Gowda visited us a few days back. He promised to build houses for poor Muslims. He did not demand or warn us to vote in his favour. This is a lie and misleading video”.
Another video of a local Muslim has emerged.
The Muslim woman says, “The video is misleading. There is no such thing as Hindu-Muslim. We will vote for those who have carried out developmental activities in our area. Nobody has the right to demand our vote. Preetham Gowda is like our brother, whatever that is doing rounds in the media is misleading. We are ready to fact-check those people who are sharing misleading videos on the internet”.
There are certain facts that emerge from the transcript of the video and what local Muslims said:
- MLA Preetam Gowda never threatened to withhold development work if Muslims don’t vote for him.
- He said development work was his duty, however, he will not do any personal favours.
- The local Muslims consider him their “brother”.
- A local Muslim man also revealed that he had promised to build houses for poor Muslims.
- Mohammad Zubair was peddling fake news.
Interestingly, the video was first shared by a journalist called Imran Khan. He had written, “An alleged video of #BJP #Hassan MLA Preetam Gowda is going viral wherein he threatens #Muslim constituents of Shrinagar to vote for him or else he won’t carry out any of their personal work.He goes on to say, he treats #Muslims with love and affection.But, they have ditched him”.
An alleged video of #BJP #Hassan MLA Preetam Gowda is going viral wherein he threatens #Muslim constituents of Shrinagar to vote for him or else he won’t carry out any of their personal work.He goes on to say, he treats #Muslims with love and affection.But, they have ditched him pic.twitter.com/GU7chHHYpA
— Imran Khan (@KeypadGuerilla) December 11, 2022
While Imran Khan shared the video with the correct interpretation, Zubair but altered the correct version to peddle fake news against Gowda.
It is clear from the screenshot that Zubair shared the video that was tweeted by Imran Khan, however, he ignored what Khan had said and peddled fake news deliberately.
Nupur Sharma controversy, Alt News and Mohammad Zubair’s role
On May 26, former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma took part in a debate on Times Now about the Gyanvapi disputed structure case, where the other panelist from the Muslim community repeatedly insulted Bhagwan Shiv. Sharma responded by narrating what is written in Islamic holy scriptures about Prophet Muhammad. What she said has been widely quoted by Islamic scholars, including hate preacher Zakir Naik.
Mohammad Zubair, the co-founder of the so-called fact-checking website AltNews, used a cleverly trimmed video clip of the debate to target Nupur Sharma. He tweeted shortly after the debate, “Prime Time debates in India have become a platform to encourage hate mongers to speak ill of other religions.” Navika Kumar, the anchor of Times Now, is encouraging a rabid communal hatemonger and a BJP spokesperson to say things that can incite riots. Shame on you, Vineet Jain.”
It was after Mohammad Zubair shared the edited video clips of the debate that sparked outrage against Nupur Sharma and anti-India campaigns emanating from Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Pakistan. Multiple Islamic leaders and organisations made death and beheading threats to Nupur Sharma. Riots erupted in several parts of the country. On 10th June 2022, Islamist mobs led to riots in many areas after the Friday Namaz. Muslim mob raised hateful slogans against Nupur Sharma, vandalized public property, and even attacked police and citizens. In Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, Prayagraj, and other districts several incidents of stone pelting and vandalism were reported. While the names of the places changed the pattern of ‘protests’ remained the same.
In June, a Hindu tailor Kanhaiyalal was beheaded in Rajasthan’s Udaipur by two Islamist terrorists for supporting Nupur Sharma. ‘Sar tan se juda’ became the new ‘normal’ response to anyone opposing the Islamist ideology.
Md Zubair and the platform Alt News have been at the forefront of spreading deliberate fake news and misleading information, especially of a communally sensitive nature, on social media.