The Uttarakhand administration has filed FIR against 17 organisations for allegedly spreading misleading and false information on social media about the forest fires in Uttarakhand.
"Some people spread rumours on social media about the fire in forests of Uttarakhand. Pictures of fires of forest in other countries were shared. This is wrong and a criminal offence. We have registered FIRs against those 17 organisations under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and IT Act 2017. Police are taking action," Jai Raj, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCR), told ANI.
Earlier, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had retweeted the tweet by Uttarakhand Press Information Bureau which exposed the rumours and posted the old photos of China and Chile that were being circulated as forest fires of Uttarakhand. Rawat urged people to stay away from rumours.
"Fires in China and Chile, as well as images of forest fires of 2016 and 2019 are being circulated to mislead and spread a far from truth propaganda against Uttarakhand. Please be aware of such misinformation and stay away from rumours," Chief Minister tweeted.
चीन और चिली के जंगलों मे लगी आग एवं वर्ष २०१६ और २०१९ की वनाग्नि की पुरानी तस्वीरों के माध्यम से उत्तराखंड के खिलाफ एक भ्रामक और सत्य से परे दुष्प्रचार चल रहा है; कृपया ऐसी अफवाहों पर ध्यान न दें और ऐसी भ्रामक खबरों से सावधान रहें| https://t.co/SY5eigG4QC— Trivendra Singh Rawat (@tsrawatbjp) May 27, 2020
Bollywood actress Isha Gupta too fell for the rumours and tweeted over it, but later apologised for it and asked her followers to to follow only the Uttrakhand Forest Department page for updates on the natural disaster.
It has come to my notice that the images circulated as “Uttarakhand fire” have been fake. Please only follow - Uttarakhand Forest Department 🙏🏽 (sorry about the same for falling for it myself)— Esha Gupta (@eshagupta2811) May 27, 2020
Congress leader Jitin Prasada also tweeted over the wild fires but later retracted his tweet when Uttarakhand chief minister apprised him that the images Prasada has posted are false.
Some of the images being circulated on Twitter may not be true. The state though is battling forest fires. I retract my tweet of images and pray that Uttarakhand is able to control the fires with minimal loss to lives and ecosystem. #prayforuttarakhand https://t.co/8XPkYikpOZ— Jitin Prasada जितिन प्रसाद (@JitinPrasada) May 27, 2020
The forest fire season in Uttarakhand ranges from March to May, peaking in April. Meanwhile, according to reports, as many as 46 forest fires have been raging in the hill state of Uttarakhand over the last five days. The forest fires this year have seen a drop from 1000 fires that were reported last year. Reportedly, in 2018, there were instances of 3000 such fires. Thus, the numbers of fires this year has been considerably low.
(With ANI inputs)