On May 5, IAS officer Rajiv Kumar Gupta announced that “[in] the entire AMC [Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation] area, all shops and home delivery services except milk and medicine shall remain closed for seven days starting from May 7 at 6 am”. Gupta is the special officer tasked by the Gujarat government to supervise and guide AMC in its efforts to contain and manage coronavirus outbreak in the city. He also announced the deployment of paramilitary forces to manage the situation on the ground.
Soon after, several users on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter began sharing a message claiming that Mumbai and Pune will be under military lockdown for a period of 10 days and only milk and medicine will be available. The viral message reads, “Entire Mumbai and pune will be under Military lockdown for 10 days starts from Saturday. So please stock everything. Groceries vegetables. City is going to hand over Army. Only milk and medicine will be available. *MAHARASHTRA CM UDDHAV THACKERAY TO ADDRESS STATE AT 8PM TODAY.”
Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application. Messages floating on WhatsApp ironically mention at the end “Pls check for authenticity but be ready”.
On May 8, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addressed the State in Marathi giving on update on the COVID-19 situation and the State’s future plans. This was live-streamed on Periscope and YouTube. The Office of the Chief Minister Maharashtra also tweeted the transcription of this address via a tweet-thread.
From 6:06 to 6:20, Thackeray addressed the viral text as said, “For the past few days, there is a rumour that the army will be deployed in Mumbai and there will be a lockdown and all shops will be closed. What is the need for the army? Whatever I have done so far, is after taking you into confidence.”
For the past few days, there is a rumour that the Army will be deployed in Mumbai and there will be a lockdown and all shops will be closed. What is the need for the army? Whatever I have done so far, is after taking you into confidence.
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) May 8, 2020
Later in the video, from 8:45- 10:30, he said, “Those in our machinery like doctors, nurses, conservancy workers, revenue staff and police are under immense strain. Some policemen are falling sick and some have lost their lives while fighting for us. They are human beings and all of them need rest. Hence, I have a plan in my mind, but please do not misunderstand this. I want to request the Centre for additional manpower to give the police relief in phases for a few days. Some unwell police need time to be cured. We may ask the Centre for additional manpower, but this may be misinterpreted as the army being deployed. But, it is not so. This is meant to give relief to the tired police force. Our measures are well-rounded, we are arranging for hospital, doctors and police. I am telling this to you today, so that fear and misunderstandings do not creep into your minds as this happens.”
On the same day, the official account of the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai debunked the viral text.
मुंबई शहरामध्ये लष्कर बोलावणे अथवा
अत्यावश्यक वस्तूंचा साठा करण्याबाबत
पसरत असलेल्या बातम्या फक्त अफवा आहेत.
शासनाच्या अधिकृत स्रोतांमार्फत
इतर बातम्यांवर विश्वास ठेवू नका.
— CP Mumbai Police (@CPMumbaiPolice) May 8, 2020
Press Information Bureau Maharashtra also tweeted refuting the claims made in the viral message.
Claim: A #WhatsApp forward says there’ll be a military lockdown in Mumbai for 10 days, starting from Saturday#PIBFactCheck: Message is #Fake. No Army/Navy personnel are being deployed for maintaining law and order in the city @adgpi @indiannavy pic.twitter.com/mwcetEsas1
— PIB in Maharashtra 🇮🇳 #MaskYourself 😷 (@PIBMumbai) May 8, 2020
The false message is therefore viral on social media claiming that Mumbai and Pune will be under military lockdown where essential items and services will not be accessible.