The state government-run Fact Check Wing not only works to challenge accusations by the opposition but also busts communally polarising fake news.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy/File Photo
news Fake News Wednesday, June 01, 2022 - 18:49

The Andhra Pradesh Digital Corporation, a state government nodal agency, has been running a fact-checking initiative — Fact Check AP — to counter misinformation on various political and other matters in the state. While the Fact Check Wing of the state government often works to refute accusations made by opposition parties Telugu Desam Party, Jana Sena Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and others over alleged failures or errors of the ruling YSRCP government, it also occasionally debunks false news that can be communally divisive. 

In a recent incident, several BJP leaders including state party president Somu Veerraju had alleged that a pastor had “illegally occupied” a Ram temple in East Godavari district and conducted a Christian prayer meeting. A video of a prayer gathering near a Ram temple was shared with claims that the temple was illegally occupied, calling it an “insult” to the deity Ram. The Fact Check Wing debunked the news by bringing out the version of events as per an investigation by the police, who found that a family dispute had been falsely distorted to make it seem like a communal issue. 

In another instance, a video was shared on Twitter of a woman removing her mangalsutra outside an exam centre in February this year, claiming that Hindu women were being forced to remove it before appearing for a government entrance exam. The Fact Check Wing found that the video was from September 2018, related to a Telangana State Public Service Commission entrance exam. 

In several instances where false news was propagated about the alleged influence of Christianity or the presence of Christian symbols at the Tirumala Venkateswara temple too, the Fact Check Wing has debunked polarising misinformation. For instance, when morphed images were being shared to claim that a ‘cross’ was being displayed at the temple instead of a Hindu symbol, or when it was falsely claimed that a relative of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy named Christopher David has been appointed to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) board, fact checks were done and clarifications were issued. 

The Tirumala temple has been at the centre of several communally divisive controversies and unproven allegations of encouraging forced religious conversions after CM Jagan, who is a Christian, came to power in 2019. 

Read: TTD authorities condemn false news showing Hindu symbol on Tirumala temple as a ‘cross’

The fact-checking initiative, which has been active on social media since December 2020, has also debunked various pieces of misinformation alleging the desecration or destruction of Hindu idols or temples. 

The platform also serves to put out the government’s version of events on social media when the opposition makes accusations against the government, as in the case of alleged deaths due to illicit liquor consumption in Jangareddygudem, the class 10 question paper leak controversy, and other instances. 

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