False posts share digitally-altered media graphic about UK PM and former Indian PM

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Social media users have repeatedly shared a purported media graphic from an Indian newspaper that has been digitally altered to make the false claim that it shows UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak making a complimentary remark about Manmohan Singh, a former Indian leader. A senior editor at the publication told AFP the image had been edited and it had never published such a graphic or report. AFP found no official reports indicating Sunak made the remark in public.

"Hey, Rishi turned out to be anti-Modi," reads a Hindi-language claim shared here on Facebook on October 27, 2022, a reference to current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It was shared alongside what appears to be a media graphic containing side-by-side photos of Rishi Sunak and Manmohan Singh.

Hindi-language text superimposed on the image translates as: "A prime minister like Manmohan Singh is needed to give the right direction and condition to India, and to improve its dwindling economy -- Rishi Sunak."

The image bears the logo of Dainik Bhaskar, one of India's major Hindi-language daily newspapers.

It has been shared more than 180 times.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on October 31, 2022.

Rishi Sunak, a practising Hindu with Punjabi roots, replaced Liz Truss as Britain's prime minister following her six weeks in office marred by political and economic chaos.

Many Indians are said to be delighting in someone with roots in their country becoming Britain's first prime minister of colour, in a milestone year for Delhi's relationship with its former colonial ruler.

Manmohan Singh, who served as India's prime minister between 2004 and 2014, is a skilled economist and is credited with many important economic reforms in the country.

The altered graphic was also shared alongside a similar claim on Facebook here and here, and on Twitter here.

However, Dainik Bhaskar said it had never published such a graphic and AFP has found no official reports indicating Sunak has publicly made complimentary statements about Singh.

Doctored image

Ankit Francis, a senior editor at Dainik Bhaskar, said the graphic seen in the social media posts is fabricated.

"This is an edited picture that is being shared in the name of Dainik Bhaskar. We have not had any such story," he told AFP.

Combined Google reverse image and keyword searches found a similar graphic published here on Dainik Bhaskar's official Twitter account on October 25, 2022.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image seen in the false posts (left) and the image published by Dainik Bhaskar (right):

Screenshot comparison of the image seen in the false posts (left) and the image published by Dainik Bhaskar (right). 

The Hindi-language text in the genuine Dainik Bhaskar graphic reads: "Chidambaram-Tharoor's advice, there should be a minority PM in India too: BJP says - forgotten Manmohan Singh."

The graphic was posted alongside a tweet sharing a news report from Dainik Bhaskar about opposition Congress leaders and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trading barbs over whether India should have a minority prime minister.

The tweet similarly describes the exchange between Congress and the BJP; it does not mention Sunak making any statements about Singh.

A separate keyword search on Twitter found Dainik Bhaskar had also dismissed the altered graphic in a tweet on October 28, 2022.

The tweet's caption reads: "The fake image is being shared in the name of Dainik Bhaskar. No such story has been published by Bhaskar. It is an act of some mischievous element. Please don't fall into the trap of such misleading information. #FakeNews."