Viral image of banner that read ‘Meiteis are refugee’ is fabricated

By: Vivek J
August 3 2023

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Viral image of banner that read ‘Meiteis are refugee’ is fabricated


The Verdict False

The original banner did not say anything of this sort. The banner was raised at a rally in Imphal against the so-called "Chin-Kuki narco-terrorism."

Claim ID caded3b7


The Indian state of Manipur has witnessed unprecedented violence since early May 2023. According to recent reports, the violence— a result of clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities — has caused at least 181 deaths in the northeastern state.

While the Supreme Court of India referred to the situation in Manipur as an "absolute breakdown of constitutional machinery," opposition parties have accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central and state governments of failing to control law and order.

Several pieces of misinformation flooding social media platforms have added fuel to the fire in strife-stricken Manipur. One such image showing a banner at a demonstration, purportedly carrying the text, "KUKI ARE FOREIGNER MEITEIS ARE REFUGEE," is currently circulating on social media. 

Multiple posts with the same image have been shared on X (formerly Twitter). Archives of such posts can be seen here and here. One such post's caption read, "If Kukis are foreigners and Meiteis are refugees, then who actually are the citizens of Manipur??"

However, a part of the text on the banner has been digitally added.

In fact 

By taking a closer look at the image, one can see that the text "MEITEIS ARE REFUGEE" is darker than the rest of the text on the banner. The phrases "KUKI ARE FOREIGNER" and "MEITEIS ARE REFUGEE" are also written in two different fonts. For instance, the letter 'R' in 'REFUGEE' looks different from the 'R' in 'FOREIGNER.'

We noticed a discrepancy in the font style.
We noticed a discrepancy in the font style. (Source: Twitter/Altered by Logically Facts)

We then conducted a reverse image search and found a similar image but with different text on the banner on Facebook. Shared by the account 'Kha-Potshangbam Times,' the picture showed the text "KUKI ARE FOREIGNER IN MANIPUR CHAPTER" written on the banner. Several photos, reportedly of a rally held in Manipur's capital Imphal, were also shared with the image.

Comparison between the original image and the manipulated one.
Comparison between the original image and the manipulated one. 

Our research showed that these images were taken during a rally against "Chin-Kuki narco-terrorism" that was held in Imphal on July 29. Meiteis have long accused "illegal Kuki Chin migrants" and "armed militants from neighboring Myanmar" of being involved in poppy cultivation in the Kuki-dominated hills of Manipur.

Photos and videos of the anti-Kuki rally were posted by several Manipur-based news and media outlets. A 60-minute video of this rally uploaded on YouTube by TOM TV showed visuals of the same banner around the 17:40 timestamp. The banner read: "KUKI ARE FOREIGNER IN MANIPUR CHAPTER." The video showed it was part of a longer banner held by several women standing in a human chain. 

The word "TAKING" and the letters "ADERS?" seen in the viral photo are also visible towards the left of the banner in the viral image. The YouTube video confirmed that this is the same banner from the viral photo, and the words "TAKING" and "ADERS?" were from another banner that read: "WHY GOVERNEMNT OF INDIA NOT TAKING ANY ACTION AGAINST KUKI INVADERS?"

It is clear that the phrase "MEITEIS ARE REFUGEE" was digitally added to a banner at a rally organized against alleged poppy cultivation by Kukis.

The original banner was raised at a massive rally in Imphal, where thousands of people took to the streets demanding action against the Kuki community. According to a report by The Indian Express on the rally, protesters had adopted five resolutions, including implementing the contentious National Registry of Citizens or NRC. They also rejected the demand for a separate administration raised by Kukis.

The verdict 

The image purporting to show a banner with the words "Meiteis are refugee" has been digitally manipulated. The original banner read, "Kukis are foreigner in the Manipur chapter." This anti-Kuki banner was raised during a protest in Imphal on July 29. Therefore, we mark this claim false.

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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