As instances of violence and vandalism are being reported out of Bengal, a host of unverified, old, unrelated images, and videos are being circulated on the internet to show the current situation in the state.
Amid this, the official Facebook page of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) West Bengal unit shared a 5-minute long video blaming the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for the violence. The video goes on to show pictures of workers, which the party has alleged were killed by ‘the TMC workers in the last 72 hours’.
At around 2 minutes 35 seconds, the video shows the photograph of a young man and identifies him as ‘Manik Moitro’, who the party claims was killed during the violence. Only the man in the photo is Abhro Banerjee, a journalist, who is very much alive.
However, the BJP later issued a statement and said that “Banerjee’s photo was erroneously included in the video”.
‘I AM STILL ALIVE’: ABHRO BANERJEE
Earlier during the day, Abhro Banerjee took to Twitter to clarify that he is alive and not in Kolkata.
“BJP IT Cell is now claiming I am Manik Moitra and died in Sitalkuchi. Please don't believe these fake posts and please don't worry. I repeat: I am (still) alive,” he wrote.
He also added that is he is currently 1,300 kilometres away from Sitalkuchi. We could also trace the photograph back to Banerjee’s Facebook page, which was uploaded way back in March 2017.
Hours later, BJP’s issued a statement and said Banerjee’s photo was “erroneously” included while using an article by him as “source for the content”.
The clarification reiterated the claim and read, “To set the record straight, Shri Manik Moitro succumbed to his injuries in Sitalkuchi following violence instigated and inflicted by TMC members.”
WHO IS MANIK MOITRO?
We found news reports that mentioned that the BJP has claimed that a party worker named Manik Moitro was allegedly killed in the post-poll violence. As per the details in the public domain, Moitro was from Sitalkuchi (as mentioned in the video). However, a report in Newslaundry mentions that Moitro’s family members have denied any political affiliation.
We also came across a tweet by journalist, Anindya Banerjee, which carried visuals of the deceased worker. However, we are not including the tweet in the story due to the graphic nature of the visuals.
We also came across a story by India Today, published on 3 May, which mentions Moitro’s name.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN BENGAL?
After the Trinamool Congress emerged victorious, various instances of post-poll violence have even reported from Bengal. The BJP has alleged that TMC-backed “goons” have killed a number of its workers, vandalised houses, looted shops, attacked women.
Party President JP Nadda said on Wednesday, 5 May, that at least 14 workers have been killed and nearly one lakh people have been affected due to the violence. He described the incident as “state-sponsored violence”.
Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee has rejected the charges and hit back at the BJP and said that incidents have happened where BJP has won. The TMC has also claimed that five of their party workers have died in the violence.
The Quint’s WebQoof team has verified several photos and videos that are being shared with hashtags like #BengalisBurning, #PresidentsRuleInBengal, #KhelaHobe. You can read our reports here.
(Update: The story has been updated with the BJP’s response.)
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