Fake articles shared to name former Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu and his son as accused in massive drug bust

By: Rajeswari Parasa
March 29 2024

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Fake articles shared to name former Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu and his son as accused in massive drug bust

Screenshot of the purported 'Way2Waynews' article circulating online. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

The articles in the viral posts have been digitally edited. Neither Chandrababu Naidu nor Nara Lokesh have been named as accused in the case by CBI.

Claim ID 173274a6

What is the claim?

Social media users have shared screenshots of purported news articles claiming that former chief minister of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, and his son Nara Lokesh have been named as the accused in connection with a massive drug haul in Visakhapatnam.

According to news reports, on March 21, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seized 25,000 kg of cocaine-laced dried yeast from the Visakhapatnam (also known as Vizag) port. The drug haul triggered a political fight between the ruling party YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP), just weeks ahead of the Assembly elections. Each party has accused its rival of being involved with the drug bust.

Social media users shared edited articles purporting to be from Telugu news outlets Way2news and Prajasakti to link Naidu and Lokesh with the Vizag drug seizure. One Facebook post shared a purported article by Way2news with the caption, "Big Breaking, Nara Lokesh in Vishaka drugs case," featuring a picture of the political leader, his wife Brahmini, and Damacharla Satyanarayana, a TDP leader from Prakasam district. The article claimed that the CBI implicated Damacharla Satyanarayana as “A2” (accused number two) in the case, and associated Nara Lokesh with him.

Another post on Facebook shared a purported article from Prajasakti, captioned, "Big Breaking, Chandrababu’s gang in Vishaka Drugs case," naming individuals ‘A1’ (accused one) to ‘A8’ (accused 8) allegedly involved in the case.

The archived links of the posts can be found here, here and here.

Screenshot of other purported 'Prajasakti' news clip circulating online. (Source:Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, these articles are fake. Chandrababu Naidu or Nara Lokesh have not been implicated in the case and named in CBI’s FIR (First Information Report.)

What are the facts?

Logically, Facts first looked into the veracity of the alleged screenshots of the news articles circulating online. We combed the official websites of Way2news and Prajasakti for the same and came across no article making the viral claims.

In fact, the links provided on the screenshots in the viral posts led to unrelated articles. For example, the link in the Way2news screenshot redirected us to an article on the appointment of vice-chancellors in universities in Telangana. 

Comparison between viral article and original article from Way2news (Source: Facebook/Way2news/Screenshot)

Way2news has acknowledged the misuse of its platform for spreading misinformation and introduced a feature for fact-checking articles using alphanumeric codes. Logically Facts has fact-checked several such fabricated screenshots circulated as Way2news articles, read here and here.

Comparisons between the viral screenshot and original Prajasakti articles revealed several editing discrepancies. The last few lines in viral screenshots are from the second page of the March 22 of the daily, but the original Prajasakti page is black-and-white, while the viral image shows an edited colorized version. The original page had no article headlined ‘Chandrababu’s gang in Vishaka drugs case.’ A fake story about Naidu’s connection with the recent drug haul has been used to claim the Telugu publication reported on the matter.

Screenshot of the newspaper clip from social media and original article from Prajashakti website (Source: Facebook/Prajashakti website/Modified by Logically Facts) 

It's essential to note that while the CBI investigation into the Vizag rugs case is ongoing, so far, the agency has not named any other individual persons or entity except for Sandhya Aqua Exports in its FIR, accessed by Logically Facts. The company is named the A1 (accused number one) in the FIR,  and the other accused, ‘A2,’ remains unidentified. 

The claim that TDP was linked to the drugs case was also spread after a fabricated letter was circulated claiming that Damacharla Satyanarayana had decided to quit the party over "links to the case." However, the party clarified on X that he did not issue such a letter.

The verdict

Edited news clips circulating on social media falsely name TDP leaders Nara Lokesh and Chandrababu Naidu as accused in the Vizag drugs case. However, no such articles were published on the websites, as confirmed by Logically Facts. Therefore, we have marked these claims as fake.

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