By: Anurag Baruah
December 9 2022
The report citing the RTI is forged and the politician who posted it has been detained.
On October 30, 2022, 135 persons were killed in a tragic suspension bridge collapse incident in Gujarat’s Morbi town, reported Indian Express. The report said that the collapse claimed the lives of 55 children, among others, making it one of the most horrendous tragedies of India in the recent past. PM Modi visited the site of the tragedy to review the situation and met with the kin of victims and those undergoing treatment in the local government hospital on November 1.
Following the incident, various claims and counter-claims began doing the rounds on social media as opposition parties blamed the ruling BJP in the Centre and the State for the tragedy. According to a Business Today report, PM’s visit to Morbi led to a row as the AAP and Congress criticized the BJP for the 'overnight makeover' of Morbi civil hospital ahead of PM Modi’s visit. The hospital was apparently renovated overnight just before PM Modi’s visit, however, the authorities said that it was ‘routine’ work, reported India Today.
Saket Gokhale, National Spokesperson of All India Trinamool Congress, posted a Tweet on December 1, 2022, claiming that an RTI revealed that Modi’s visit to Morbi for a few hours cost ₹30 cr. "RTI reveals that Modi's visit to Morbi for a few hours cost ₹30 cr. Of this, ₹ 5.5cr was purely for "welcome, event management, & photography". 135 victims who died got ₹4 lac ex-gratia each i.e. ₹5 cr. Just Modi's event management & PR costs more than life of 135 people,” the Tweet said. He cited what seemed like a news report from a local Gujarati Newspaper, Gujarat Samachar.
We did a keyword search on Google following which we came across multiple news reports confirming the fact that the news report tweeted by Gokhale was forged.
A news report by Economic Times (ET) stated that the Gujarat Police on Tuesday arrested TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale in Ahmedabad hours after he was detained in Jaipur based on a complaint over his tweet in connection with the recent Morbi bridge collapse. Gujarat police said “the news report tweeted by Gokhale was forged as no such report had been published and that the government's fact-check unit had flagged the tweet the same day,” the ET report said.
NDTV quoted sources in the Gujarat police cyber cell saying that Saket Gokhale is believed to have used the newspaper Gujarat Samachar's font in the media clipping in his tweet "claiming" it's an RTI reply. “Trinamool's Saket Gokhale Forged Papers For 30-Crore Claim About PM: Cops,” the headline of the NDTV report said.
A Times Now report confirmed that Saket Gokhale was detained by a Gujarat Police team on Tuesday for spreading 'fake news'. Indian Express quoted a senior police official at the Ahmedabad cyber cell as saying, “Gokhale posted on social media and tweeted claiming a news report by the Gujarat Samachar… Prima facie the news report clippings are fake… Gujarat Samachar has placed on record that they did not publish any such news report. Considering the massive tragedy… and sensitivity of the issue, the complaint was taken… it had potential law and order ramifications. He (Gokhale) is claiming impersonation and we will add sections under IT Act if need be.”
The Press Information Bureau (PIB) took to Twitter further confirming that the claims made by the TMC's National Spokesperson were 'fake' as no response to such an RTI query was given. "Quoting an RTI, It is being claimed in a tweet that PM’s visit to Morbi cost ₹30 cr. #PIBFactCheck. This claim is #Fake. No such RTI response has been given," PIB Fact Check said in a tweet.
The claim that an RTI revealed that the Morbi authority spent ₹30 crores for Modi's one-day visit after the bridge collapse is baseless as the report mentioning the RTI itself is forged. Also, it has been confirmed that no such RTI was filed. Therefore, we are marking the claim as false.