Morphed clipping from The Times of India newspaper goes viral amid 5G spectrum auction

An alleged clipping of the “Times Business” page of “The Times of India” (Chennai edition) is going viral on social media. It is written on the page that the government suffered a loss of 2.8 lakh crores in the 5G spectrum auction. Also, the number ‘2800000000000000’ is written in the title to show the loss. Several social media users, leaders and accounts associated with the Congress party shared it as BJP’s “5G scam”.

Writer Ashok Kumar Pandey tweeted the newspaper clipping and wrote, “Count the zeros and tell me, in how many days is the ED raid on the Times?” (Archive link)

Congress leader Pankhuri Pathak also tweeted the photo and called it a “5G scam”. (Archive link)

RLD leader and former journalist Prashant Kanojia also made the same statement. (Archive link)

This newspaper clipping was tweeted by many social media users including Uttar Pradesh Congress, Bihar Youth Congress, NSUI Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh Congress Sevadal, Daman and Diu Sevadal CongressCongress President Vinay Kumar Dokaniaand head of DMK TRB Rajaa.

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Fact check

We watched the newspaper clipping carefully and noticed that there was a lag between numbers given in words and numbers written in numbers. The figure given in numerals has fourteen zeros after ’28’ which means 2800 lakh crores, while the figures given in letters are written as ‘2.8 lakh crores’.

Then we noticed that the viral news clipping had the signature of Times of India National Editor, Pankaj Doval. Taking this clue, we checked Pankaj Doval’s Twitter account and found that he had tweeted the Times Business page on August 2. It should be noted that the photo he tweeted is similar to the viral image, however, it does not have the title seen in the viral cutting.

To dive deeper, we compared the viral clipping with the news published in The Times of India (Chennai edition) dated August 2, 2022, and found it to be edited. In fact, the newspaper did not publish anything about “a loss of 2.8 lakh crores” in the 5G spectrum auction. The original document had written about gaining 1.5 lakh crores from the government 5G spectrum auction.

In summary, several politicians, accounts associated with the Congress party and social media users tweeted an edited image from the “Times Business” page claiming that the 5G spectrum auction was a record scam. While in reality, the original newspaper clipping had written about the 1.5 lakh crore gain from the 5G spectrum auction.

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