Fact Check: The lies and misdirections of the Modi government during the coronavirus lockdown

13 June 2020
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi delivering the inaugural address at the 125th Annual Session of Confederation of Indian Industries through video conference, in New Delhi on 2 June. The Modi administration frequently misdirected the public and lied to justify the world’s harshest lockdown and claim it was a success.
PIB
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi delivering the inaugural address at the 125th Annual Session of Confederation of Indian Industries through video conference, in New Delhi on 2 June. The Modi administration frequently misdirected the public and lied to justify the world’s harshest lockdown and claim it was a success.
PIB

Following 24 March, when the central government announced the first of four nationwide lockdowns to restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus, representatives and ministers of the government have consistently misdirected the public with half-truths and outright lies to justify their policies and stave away criticism.

Many of the claims that officials made were demonstrably untrue in the face of ground reports that showed severe hunger and starvation in several parts of the country, particular among migrant workers. A large number of these lies seemed to be used to justify the nationwide lockdown and the mismanagement of repatriating migrant workers, ignoring the immeasurable loss of life and suffering inflicted on India’s poorest.

Officials also attempted to claim success in curbing the spread of the virus ignoring the continued threat the pandemic poses to the population. Below is a list of the most egregious misdirections and lies by government officials in the past three months.

No new cases of COVID-19 after 16 May

During a press briefing on 24 April, Vinod Paul, a member of the NITI Aayog, and chairperson of the national task force for COVID-19, presented a slide that ambitiously claimed that the number of new coronavirus cases would drop to about a thousand by 10 May, and that India would see no new cases after 16 May. The national task force on COVID-19, comprising 21 leading scientists from across the country, was formed to advise the Narendra Modi government on its response to the pandemic. Soon after the briefing, the press information bureau tweeted the mathematical model, noting that Paul had said, “No need to fear of hidden spike in #COVID cases, the disease is in control.” Paul’s models predicted that the cases would peak at just above 1500 cases a day. Not only was this claim rubbished by several members of another empowered group created by the central government to advise the COVID-19 response, the continued rise in cases has proved this false. On May 16, India’s cases had started growing at a rate of 5000 a day, and reached 10,000 by the 12 June.

Ahan Penkar is a fact-checking fellow at The Caravan.

Keywords: coronavirus lockdown COVID-19 fact checking misinformation Narendra Modi
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