2021 image falsely shared as chopper crash involving IAF Air Marshal

By: Mohammad Salman
January 24 2024

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
2021 image falsely shared as chopper crash involving IAF Air Marshal

Screenshot of social media posts making the claim. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The Indian Air Force PRO told us the viral claim is false and no such helicopter carrying Air Marshal Pankaj Mohan Sinha crashed in Mathura.

Claim ID 43c7fed1

What is the claim?

An image of a crashed helicopter was shared on social media with the claim that it shows an Indian Air Force helicopter that crashed near Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. The image was shared with the claim that Air Marshal Pankaj Mohan Sinha, the Commander of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force, was aboard the helicopter and was injured, with his condition unknown. This claim was shared soon after Iran’s missile attack on the bases of the terrorist group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan. 

Following this, Pakistani users on X (formerly Twitter) shared the claim as breaking news with similar captions. Many users sharing such posts had the flag of Pakistan in their username or bio. Archived versions of such posts can be seen here, here, here, here, and here.

Screenshot of social media posts making the claim. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

What are the facts?

A keyword search for such a crash in Mathura yielded no results. There are no news reports of such a development. There were no announcements or press releases on the official social media accounts of the Indian Air Force about such an incident, either.

We then contacted the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Indian Air Force, who dismissed the claim. Wing Commander Nandi told us, “If the Indian media have not published such news, it means whatever is being said is wrong.”

The image of the crashed chopper is from 2021

A reverse image search of the image used in the post redirected us to an Economics Times report published on November 18, 2021, that carried the same image. The report was credited to news agency PTI, and according to the report, the image shows an MI-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force that crashed while landing at Rocham helipad in Arunachal Pradesh on November 18.

Screenshot of Economics Times report (Source: Economic Times/Screenshot)

The report stated that the helicopter was flying from Huliang to Rocham in the Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh with a pilot, an engineer, and two crew members when it crashed near the helipad in Rocham. The rotors of the helicopter were damaged.

A report in India Today stated that the engineer on board sustained minor injuries, but the rest were safe after the crash. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel carried out a rescue operation from Rochham Post, where the helicopter had crashed. This incident was also reported by media outlets like ABP News and Tribune India, and their reports also corroborated these details.

News agency ANI had also published videos of the crash on social media. 

Accounts supporting Pakistan shared misinformation

Our investigation showed us that the viral claim was first posted by the X account named ‘@NavCom24,’ and was later reshared by multiple users in Pakistan. The same image was also circulated by several verified accounts, like Intel Pak, Pakistan Telegraph, Former ISPR, Atiq-ur-Rehman. We could observe similar captions in all these posts, indicating that they were copied from one source and then posted on different accounts.

Image shows the reach of the claims on the alleged helicopter crash on X. (Courtesy: Screenshot/Flourish)

However, this is not the first time that Pakistani social media accounts have spread conspiracy theories about an Indian Air Force officer. On December 8, 2021, Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. After the crash was officially confirmed, multiple falsified narratives started going viral, claiming that the crash was not an accident but a plot by “Tamil insurgents” to “kill India’s top-ranking military officer.” A Logically AI analysis found that these narratives were shared by Twitter (now known as X) users from Pakistan.

The now-viral claim emerged after Indian users mocked Pakistan after Iran conducted a missile strike on Jaish al-Adl in Pakistani territory. It can be assumed that Pakistani social media users shared this false claim as a reaction to Indian users.

The verdict

An image of an Indian Air Force helicopter that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh in 2021 has been shared with a false claim it shows a helicopter carrying Air Marshal Pankaj Mohan Sinha, Commander of the Indian Air Force's Western Air Command, that crashed in Mathura. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false. 

(Translated by: Ankita Kulkarni)

Read this fact-check in:

English , हिंदी

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before