Since the past week, a 26-second video has been doing the rounds of social media, which shows a man in a wheelchair accepting a blanket. In the video, he introduces himself as 'Ramesh Singh' and expresses his gratitude to the 'organiser' for distributing blankets to differently-abled persons.
Towards the end, 'Ramesh Singh' is seen getting up from the wheelchair and walking away.
This video has been labelled as an Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party propaganda, hinting that the event was staged and the people receiving blankets were pretending to be differently-abled.
The claim comes at a time when the Delhi Assembly elections 2020 are round the corner and are scheduled to be held on February 8. With the results to be announced on February 11, this video has been widely shared on Twitter and Facebook.
AAP propaganda video. Blankets being distributed to disabled persons. It looks like the director forgot to say "cut" and the person starts walking away. Magic blanket indeed.@rose_k01 @SushmaAnand89 @Swamy39 @yessirtns @AmitShah @ashokepandit @LillyMaryPinto @Payal_Rohatgi pic.twitter.com/u0TttUpZp8— kishore (@Rohit40135799) January 30, 2020
Magic blanket from AAP. The moment this divyang got the blanket he started walking.— Mauna (@ugtunga) January 30, 2020
See it to believe it 😳😌 pic.twitter.com/AWUmY4dsPE
AAP and BJP staging blanket distribution by coercing people to fake disability
The claim is false
The event has no connection to BJP or AAP organization.
In the video, in which Ramesh Singh is talking to the camera, a banner can be spotted with Hindi text which reads 'Digital Saksharta Sansthan (Translated from डिजिटल साक्षरता संस्थान).'
There exists a Facebook profile by the name 'Sakshrta Sansthan', which is an NGO based out of Seohara, Uttar Pradesh. The same profile has shared the fake-news-busting-video of AbhiTak channel in which Ramesh Singh clarifies that the public has been misled and that he has a unique disability ID card.
In AbhiTak's report, Singh has displayed his proof of disability and said, "There is some misunderstanding among the masses. I'm really disabled and I have proof. I have UD ID (Unique Disability ID) which states I've 40% disability."
Speaking about the moment when he gets up from the chair, which was called out for being 'fake', Singh said, "While receiving the gift, I was made to sit on the wheelchair. When I stood up, people who saw the video couldn't understand the nature of my disability."
Digital Sakshrta Sansthan's Facebook account has uploaded several other videos from the event.
A video uploaded on January 19 shows the full sequence of a woman receiving the blanket on a wheelchair, after being asked to sit, and then getting up.
On February 1, The Quint published a fact-check report, according to which Najam was the reporter on duty for Abhitak. While speaking to The Quint, Najam said, "The man sitting on the wheelchair is Ramesh Singh and the one giving the blanket is Ravi Saini. AAP is not involved in this in any manner."
The report added that Saini is a part of the 'Digital Saksharta Sansthan' and Saini told The Quint that they had organised a programme to distribute 100 blankets to the differently-abled.
Ravi Saini has posted the local media reports of the event on Twitter.
Speaking to BOOM, Ravi Saini described himself as a businessman who works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Broadcast and Information Technology.
"I have no political affiliation, I am just a businessman who runs an NGO that helps the government in their programs such as e-literacy including setting up wi-fi in villages and rural areas. I don't belong to AAP or any political party. I work with the IT Ministry for my projects but there is no political involvement of me or my NGO," Saini explained.
Therefore, social media's claims that the Aam Aadmi Party or the Bharatiya Janata Party distributed blankets to the people posing to be differently-abled for propaganda are false.
Creating or sharing fake news is never justified. We have a responsibility to verify everything that we post on the internet. To ensure that our national debate is healthy and well-informed, each and every one of us has a responsibility of treating what we read with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of doubt, and a flood of research.