In the wake of Pulwama attack in Jammu-Kashmir, social media platforms have been inundated with a barrage of fake news and misinformation. One such post was flagged by Boom Live, a fact-checking website. An old video of an attack in Iraq was being passed off as CCTV footage of the Pulwama attack that left 40 CRPF jawans dead in Jammu-Kashmir.
The 30-second long video, possibly captured through a CCTV camera mounted at a distance, shows a convoy of vehicles passing through the road. A huge explosion occurs at the 11-second mark and this is being widely shared as the footage from Pulwama attack. However, fact-check by Boom Live revealed that the footage was originally of an IED blast that occurred in Iraq in 2007.
Taking to indianexpress.com, Jency Jacob, Managing Editor of Boom Live said they had received information about the video via their WhatsApp helpline. “People had sent us the video asking if the footage was actually from Pulwama. But when you look at the streets, you can make out that it is not Kashmir,” he said. The team then did a reverse image search on Google and found that the video was uploaded by multiple YouTube users as early as April 2008. The footage was originally tracked down to a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) that occurred in September 2007.
The team then flagged the issue to Facebook. “There is no specific data on how many platforms was the video shared. But we immediately flagged it to Facebook who takes the call if it needs to be pulled off the platform,” Jacob added. “The fact that none of the media channels had reported any CCTV footage from the area was a red flag,” he said.
The Jammu-Srinagar Highway, in fact, had no CCTV cameras prior to the attack. The state police have now been ordered to secure both the Srinagar- Sonamarg highway as well as Jammu-Srinagar Highway by installing a CCTV surveillance system. Officials in Srinagar believe both highways are crucial for the security forces because of the regular movement of convoys. The suicide bomb attack, claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, on the security convoy was the worst strike on forces Jammu and Kashmir in decades.
The Boom team has also debunked another fake news that passed off video from a Syrian car bombing as footage from Pulwama. In the video that is traced to the Syrian-Turkish border, the camera captured a car being bombed near a security checkpoint. The nine-second video went viral on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with users claiming that it was from Pulwama. The reverse image showed that the video was in fact from an explosion that occurred near the Syrian town of al-Rai near the Turkish border on February 12, 2019.