Ahead of a press conference on October 4, the Indian Air Force released a promotional video about the Balakot airstrike that was carried out in February on a target in Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. However, several media outlets reported the representational video as real footage that offered evidence of the airstrike in Pakistan.

At the time of the attack, there had been some scepticism about what targets India had actually struck. While India said its bombs had destroyed a terror training camp, Pakistan claimed that only some trees had been hit.

Media misrepresentation

Republic TV played the footage as “IAF’s Balakot proof”. “It is high time we start speaking about what we have done,” declared the channel’s consulting editor Major Gaurav Arya. “In today’s world where social media and mainstream media are so active, it was also a weapon of war…I have not seen the video but I am aware of its content…They should make more such videos and spread awareness among the people and also amongst the enemies because they have been fed a certain diet of propaganda…”

While neither the anchor nor Arya mentioned that the video was representational in nature, the channel flashed the worlds “promotional video” a few times on the screen even as it described it as proof of the Balakot airstrike.

ABP News described the video as “exclusive footage” and asserted, “Pakistan used to say that only trees were fallen but you can see the extent of damage caused by the IAF in terrorist camps…this video is proof” [translated from Hindi]. However, a disclaimer flashed by the channel for a fraction of a second specified that the video is promotional.

Zee News also carried the misinformation. Its tweet and article headline called the video the “first footage which gives proof” of the Balakot airstrike. Zee News has now updated its story with the article correctly reflecting that the video is a promotion. However, it did not provide a clarification for this.

Zee MP-Chhattisgarh and Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand also claimed to have accessed an “exclusive video”. Oneindia Hindi said the footage was “evidence” of the Indian Air Force attack.

Punjab Kesari wrote a headline in Hindi, “Airstrike video released. See how we entered Pakistan and killed terrorists.” However, the word “promotional” did find a subtle mention in the article.

A PTI story published by media outlets like Firstpost and Business Standard claimed, “Ahead of the press conference, the IAF also showed video clips of the Balakot strikes.” The word “promotional” did not appear in the article.

Gujarati media outlets Gujarat Samachar and TV9 Gujarati also carried reports without mentioning in their headlines that it was a promotion. While the former claimed in its article that the video was indeed promotional but included “real” footage, TV9 Gujarati asserted throughout its report that the video depicted the actual airstrike.

However, the channel’s YouTube and Facebook posts mentioned the word “promotional”.

Some Marathi media outlets such as News18 Lokmat and Loksatta also gave credence to the misinformation.

A broadcast by India Today, while describing the video as “promotional”, also called it “proof” of Balakot airstrike.

The Tribune’s Ajay Banerjee described the footage as a “graphic shot of its [IAF] planes destroying terror camp at Balakot”.

Tweeted Times Now with a poster of its daily prime time show with Rahul Shivshankar, “.@IAF_MCC releases Balakot video. ‘Doubters’ didn’t believe PM @NarendaModi. Will they also doubt Uniform?”

Not actual footage

A defence correspondent with WION, Sidhant Sibal, tweeted that the Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria clarified during the press conference that there were “no shots of Balakot strikes in the video”.

BBC journalist Jugal R Purohit also said the same thing.

ANI uploaded the footage released by the Air Force, specifying that it is a promotional clip showcasing the Balakot aerial strike.

This article first appeared on Alt News.