A mob has gathered seeking Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. Well, it is not a mob per se, but more of like a gathering of angry citizens. They have gathered not in real, but inside a comments section Biren Singh’s profile. Well, not his real profile, but a questionable duplicate Facebook profile. Confused? So are we.
To start things off, this questionable duplicate profile of N Biren Singh shared a photo where he was seen with folded hands, walking on a red carpet, and surrounded by his bodyguards. On either side of the red carpet were lines of people, kneeling and bowing. “I am proud to see the culture and custom of Manipuris. What a discipline,” the post said. Here is the embedded photo.
If we are to go by social media claims, then these were students, who were “made to bow down”. Here is that photo making the controversial claims.
We are calling it a questionable profile because we cannot verify the authenticity of the profile. Meanwhile, no such photos were shared from his verified Facebook profile. However, since it is the internet, people didn’t wait for fact-checkers to do their job, which I assume is a difficult task. At first, they gathered in the comments section of the photo posted from the questionable profile.
One such individual, Lhangum Nu said, “Mr CM if you want this type of custom and respect, go to Thailand and become a king there. You walked on the red carpet and kids are on the dirty side, shame.” While Bernardo Ymnm said, “Politicians are not Kings or Gods. These kids are not slaves. Please respect them too.” While some called it “hilarious and shameful”, others said that such respect should only be given to God.
Interestingly — but not surprising since it is the internet — a few people were in support of it. While Munmun Ranjan “loved it proudly”, Pramot Singh said, “Meiteis consider our guests as Gods, we receive them with a bow,” and adds that we must change tendency, not culture. It wouldn’t be the internet without some debate or counter-narratives. Moreover, after the original picture became a template upon which the internet stuck its wildest theories (well most of them are yet unverified and if one of them came out to be true, we still shouldn’t be surprised) the new pics found their way to Biren Singh’s verified profile.
Moreover, some prominent profiles on Twitter have also shared the picture. One is renowned journalist Rezaul Hasan Laskar, who said, “In this day & age, shocking to see such an image. And shared by the chief minister of a northeastern state on his Facebook page. (Sic)”
The other is author and columnist Sujeev Shakya, who said, “The way #Nepali politicians seek privilege, they would not mind this! (Sic)”
In our efforts to verify this controversy, we realised a couple of things. The profile from which the controversial photo was shared is a personal profile, with 5,000 friends, active history and well, more followers than the verified page. The latter is a personality page and not a profile, but it has only 71,546 followers, where the former has 136,877. Regardless, with the internet lit up, the post has gone viral, and yet, sadly, unverified.