An image of a fake front page of The Daily Star's October 14 issue was circulated on social media yesterday.
In the image, it is seen that The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam wrote a commentary (headlined “A disgrace to Bangladesh” and under the second headline "As if we are heading to jungle law").
The fact is Mahfuz Anam has not written any commentary recently.
The lead story in the page under the headline “CJ exposes the Govt.” and the subsequent second headline is also fake.
Similar fake pages of leading Bangla dailies -- Prothom Alo, Samakal and Ittefaq -- were also circulated on social media yesterday.
The fake news was uploaded from the Facebook pages named "Begum Khaleda Zia" and "ShomoyerShakkhi.com", and the Facebook and Twitter accounts of Wahiduzzaman, a suspended National University teacher.
The post was shared over 1,000 times from the "Begum Khaleda Zia" page and 40 times from the account of Wahiduzzaman, and five times from "ShomoyerShakkhi.com" page.
Soon after Wahiduzzaman, who introduces himself in his Facebook profile as climate change related secretary of the BNP, uploaded the doctored image around 3:00pm, the fake content drew surprise, criticism and sparked discussions.
In the discussions, Wahiduzzaman even went on to lie about the authenticity of the content by writing that the “screenshot” was of The Daily Star's second edition, which is not true.
The page, however, was taken down from the Facebook and Twitter accounts around 6:00pm yesterday.
"I saw the news on ShomoyerShakkhi.com and I shared it because I didn't think it could be fake. It looked so real. I thought it was genuine. But I am not the only person who shared it," Wahiduzzaman, who claims to be in Malaysia, told this correspondent over the phone.
“I took it down after I realised it was fake.”
The fake content was still on the pages of "Begum Khaleda Zia" and "ShomoyerShakkhi.com" as of 1:30am today.
It could not be known who run these pages.
The Daily Star understands it has been done with the motive to malign the reputation of the newspaper and create confusion among people for the benefit of some vested quarters.
The newspaper requests its readers to be aware of the lies swirling around the digital space and confront those by sharing the real news.
Last night, The Daily Star filed a general diary (GD) with Tejgaon Police Station over the issue.
Deputy Commissioner Alimuzzaman of Cyber Crime Unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said a group was spreading fake news using mastheads of some leading national dailies. "We are trying to trace the group and bring its members to book," he told The Daily Star.
Contacted, Pro-Vice Chancellor of National University Prof Mashiur Rahman said the university authorities suspended Wahiduzzaman as he had made "derogatory comments" about the prime minister and her family.
"A probe is going on in this regard.
"The university authorities will take action against him if he still is affiliated with the university and has done something like this."
On November 6, 2013, a Dhaka court had sent Wahiduzzaman, who was then a geography teacher of the university, to jail after rejecting his bail prayer in a case filed in connection with making derogatory remarks about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her family members on Facebook.