Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday labelled the state Congress unit a “fake news factory” for using a video of a mock drill in Jharkhand as police brutality during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December 2019.
Assam Congress had last Thursday shared a 2:47 minute-long video on what Assam has received and lost during the incumbent BJP-led government’s rule.
At 2:02 minute in the video, the voiceover asks viewers if they remember the sacrifices of the five young men who died during the CAA protests while the video showed the police firing at a crowd on the street.
According to a ‘Fact Check’ article published in December 2019, the video is from a police mock drill at Jharkhand that had been circulated by certain Twitter users as police firing during the CAA protest. The article also mentioned that the video had earlier been used to allege police firing in Kashmir.
Mr Sarma on his Twitter said, “Congress is Fake News Factory! Check at 2 min, how they have misused a mock drill video from Jharkhand to call it shooting by Assam Police.”
The claims in the Assam Congress’s video, however, weren’t entirely wrong.
During the protests against the CAA in December 2019 and January 2020, five young men – Sam Stafford, 17, Abdul Amin, 23, Ishwar Nayak, 25, Deepanjal Das, 19, from Guwahati – had died in police firing. Another, Azizul Hoque, 45, also died in the protests when his truck was torched.
According to journalists who extensively covered the protest, during one of the protests, street lights were put out before the police started firing.
Responding to Mr Sarma’s attack, the Congress tweeted, “You can try to sidetrack the issue as much as you like, but our (and Assam’s) questions remain the same – Do you deny that 5 innocent people were killed during CAA protetst? Do you deny that hundreds of innocent were injured because of your Govt’s Apathy?”
The Finance Minister had earlier attacked the Congress for allegedly using the photos of tea estates in Taiwan and claiming them to be those of Assam.
Assam had seen widespread protests after the new citizenship law passed in 2019 over concerns that it would legalise thousands of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh before 2015.