The footage began circulating on WhatsApp across India on Wednesday, purporting to show harrowing scenes of beleaguered passengers screaming “Shoot us!” and “kill us!” at authorities as they were trapped in the airport.
The viral WhatsApp message, which has also spread online, is typically accompanied by text such as the following:
“Big Chaos at New Delhi International airport T3 today morning. Now they are taking the passport of the arriving passengers and not returning them till all the tests are done. Even Indian citizens with Indian passport holders are not allowed to exit the airport. Passengers are screaming at police to kill them or shoot them. This is just unbelievable.”
The fake news even reached the lofty heights of Bollywood as actress Soni Razden shared the video out of apparent concern for her fellow Indian citizens, before deleting the tweet and apologizing.
As it turns out, there was a crowd at the airport on Monday but no passports were seized; the passengers in question were complaining about additional coronavirus checks which were arranged in a separate zone inside the airport for passengers arriving from a specific list of countries.
The hysteria witnessed in the video was reportedly from passengers who did not wish to be screened, but who did not have their passports taken (only the Indian Passport Authority has the powers to impound passports, police may only seize them briefly for inspection, according to Section 102 of the Code of Criminal procedure).
Delhi airport posted a notice on social media on Tuesday informing passengers about which destination countries would be subjected to additional screening.
Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted that the Delhi government had put aside 182 rooms in three hotels near the airport for those under mandatory quarantine, a far cry from the alleged false imprisonment and persecution of the fake news narrative on social media.
So far, India has only three confirmed deaths due to coronavirus infection, with 142 confirmed cases.
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