Times Now reported on Saturday that members of the Popular Front of India had shouted “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans during a protest in Pune against the arrest of their comrades a few days earlier. The offending slogans, the TV news channel claimed, were shouted at the collector’s office near Sassoon Hospital on September 23.
The claim was repeated by ANI, Republic, Nai Duniya, and Lokmat.
But the Pune police say the claim is false.
Several police officials who have watched videos of the protest told Newslaundry that PFI members were shouting "Zindabad, Zindabad, Popular Front Zindabad”. There was no mention of Pakistan.
“Nobody shouted Pakistan Zindabad slogans. This is utterly false,” Pratap Mankar, senior police inspector, Bund Garden, said. “Their slogan was ‘Popular Front Zindabad’.”
Another police official who has jurisdiction in Bund Garden, where the protest was held, said, “This is complete fake news. Some channels are spreading misinformation to disturb peace and harmony in our city. We have checked everything, and thoroughly. The protesters were shouting slogans in favour of the Popular Front and not Pakistan.”
Newslaundry also spoke with a few of the protesters and they all denied having heard “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans.
“The police had not given permission for the protest but people still gathered outside the collector’s office, 200-250 of them,” said Abdul Aziz, one of the protesters. “The protesters were shouting ‘Zindabad, Zindabad, Popular Front Zindabad’ and some Allah-u-Akbar. After 10 minutes, the police detained about 40 people and released them late in the evening. I was there throughout and nobody shouted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’.”
Another protester, Mohammad Kaiz, said, “None of the protesters shouted any such slogan.”