Farmers Attacked BJP Leader's Car in Uttarakhand? Claim is Misleading!
The clip is shared with an incorrect claim that protesting farmers attacked the BJP leader's car in Uttarakhand.
A video of a crowd surrounding a car and a man running out of it after its doors were forced open is going viral on Facebook. The clip is being shared claiming that it shows a BJP leader's car being surrounded by protesting farmers in Uttarakhand.
However, we found that the video does not show farmers. In the clip, the people surrounding BJP leader Pankaj Bhatt's car are locals and 'teerth purohits', or priests, who were in the area to protest Uttarakhand's new Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act.
The video was viral on Facebook and was shared with a Punjabi claim which read:
"ਭਾਜਪਾ ਦੇ ਲੀਡਰ ਦੀ ਉਤਰਾਖੰਡ ਵਿੱਚ ਵੀ ਕਿਸਾਨਾਂ ਨੇ ਸਪੀਡ ਚੈੱਕ ਕੀਤੀ|"
(Translation: Farmers also did a speed check of a BJP leader's car in Uttarakhand.)
WHAT WE FOUND
Using InVID, a Google Chrome extension for video verification, we divided the video into multiple keyframes and ran a reverse image search on them.
The results led us to a report by News18, which carried screenshots of the viral video, as well as a video segment in the article.
The report identified the BJP leader as one Pankaj Bhatt and mentioned that the crowd was present to protest Uttarakhand's new Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act.
Bhatt had reached the spot to allegedly support the protestors, but was attacked and chased out of the area.
Another report by Jansatta mentioned similar details and added that Bhatt is considered close to the state's Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj, who had earlier stated that the state would not be reconsidering the Devasthanam Board's formation.
We also reached out to the Mukesh Thaledi, station officer at Ukhimath Police Station who confirmed to us that the video is from the same incident and that it had no connection with the farmers' protest.
WHY ARE PRIESTS PROTESTING?
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the government has had to cancel the Char Dham Yatra, which is a religious procession that visits four ancient Hindu pilgrimage sites. One of these sites, Badrinath, is in Uttarakhand and attracts high footfall and aids tourism in the area.
Uttarakhand's state government passed the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act in early 2020, which allowed the formation Char Dham Devasthanam Board.
This Board was constituted to overlook the management of pilgrimages and the donations received by these holy sites.
Priests and other temple workers have protested the Board's formation and demanded its dissolution, fearing that government control of the area would affect their freedom and income, which already took a severe hit due to the pandemic.
Evidently, the BJP leader's car was surrounded by locals and priests gathered in Uttarakhand to demand the dissolution of the Devasthanam Board, and doesn't show farmers blocking the leader's car.
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