India deletes doctored photo of Modi at flood scene, aides promise action

Residents make their way through floodwaters in Chennai.

Residents make their way through floodwaters in Chennai.

A doctored photo released by the Indian government showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi surveying severe flooding from a helicopter has been deleted, and his office promised remedial action after criticism on social media.

Modi traveled to Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai on Thursday to get a first-hand view of the disaster, after the strongest rains in a century killed more than 280 people over a month and displaced thousands of residents.

The government’s Press Information Bureau published a photo on its website that showed Modi looking through the round window of a helicopter, through which a clear view of waterlogged buildings was visible. It was later taken down.

A similar photograph, but with a blurred view through the window, was posted on Modi’s personal Twitter feed (@narendramodi). Commentators on social media accused the PIB of digitally manipulating its version of the picture.

The prime minister’s office was shocked to see facts being distorted, said a senior official who declined to be named, adding that officials from the press office have been summoned to reinforce rules and regulations.

“We will not allow anyone to falsify the facts,” another official in Modi’s office said on Friday.

“The prime minister will not tolerate this.”

The head of the PIB declined to comment.

Reuters had published the PIB’s photograph with the sharper window view, which was authorized for independent distribution, with a disclaimer that it could not independently verify its authenticity. Later Reuters withdrew the picture.

Humorists published their own photoshopped images of Modi: One showed the premier looking through the helicopter window at planet Earth, as seen from the moon.

“Where no more countries are left to visit,” tweeted @brownbrumby, taking a jibe at Modi’s extensive foreign travel.


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