On 9 May, right-wing channel, Sudarshan News, tweeted a two-minute-long video from Kurukshetra, Haryana, and claimed that a mazar (mausoleum) was being built on a temple land.
The video shows a man narrating the entire incident as he moves around the area; he goes on to say that this was the place where Lord Krishna delivered the sermon of Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, and that it was now being taken over by the Muslim community.
Terming the incident "land jihad," the channel said it was all a conspiracy.
Sudarshan News is well known for targeting the Muslim community by relying on disinformation. Of the most recent, the channel has been called out for its show titled "UPSC Jihad" and its antics at a Haldiram's store for the company's branding of one of its products in Arabic.
Even in this case, we found no evidence to back the claim made by the channel. We spoke to Vinod Sharma – the man whose family had made the structure, which is now being misidentified as a mazar – the local police, locals who visit the temple, an NGO called 'Green Earth', and even the local administration.
All of them denied these claims and said the structure was made by a Hindu Brahmin family and that it has existed on this land for at least two decades.
Sharma also told us that their family moved the structure from this temple land after the video went viral.
The video is being shared with a text in Hindi, which claims that the structure is a conspiracy to capture 'Hindu land'. At the time of writing the story, the video had been viewed over 75,000 times.
Another Facebook page called 'Bhakti Path' went live with this claim on 7 May. We could see the same man, accompanied by another one, in this video. This video has over 42,000 views so far. (Archive here)
The video is massively viral.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
On conducting a simple keyword search, we found out that the location that was being talked about in the video was Jyotisar, a pilgrimage site in Haryana's Kurukshetra.
Taking this as the first clue, we did another keyword search to identify what the issue was about and came across a report published in Hindi daily, Dainik Jargan, on 10 May.
This report stated that somebody put a 'chadar' (religious cloth) on top of a Hindu structure and that the video went viral. It also stated that Naresh Bharadwaj, a member of an NGO called 'Green Earth', had urged the police to investigate the matter.
We reached out to Bharadwaj to get the details of the same. He said:
"The structure that is being called a mazar is actually a Hindu family's religious structure, built for their forefathers. Somebody made this video to claim that it was a mazar and the video went viral. Now the family has removed the structure from here."Naresh Bhardwaj, Green Earth
Bhardwaj also told us that their organisation works for the protection of the environment, and they got to know about the matter when they were planting trees on the temple compound.
With Bhardwaj's help, we were able to identify the family. We contacted Vinod Sharma, who told The Quint that the structure was actually built in memory of his forefathers.
"I can't recall how old the structure is, but it is more than two decades old. We visit this structure every year during Diwali. Someone put this chadar on top of it and made the video with an absolutely false claim. There is no mazar in the temple. However, we have now removed this structure from the temple compound."Vinod Sharma
ADMINISTRATION, POLICE, AND LOCALS – ALL DENY THE CLAIM MADE IN THE VIDEO
To see if there was any legal action taken so far, we contacted Jyotisar Police Post Sub-Inspector, Ram Senahi, who also said the claims made in the video were blatantly false and there was no mazar inside the temple.
He said that the structure was removed after the video went viral.
The land on which the temple is built falls under the jurisdiction of the Kurukshetra Development Board. Our next conversation was with the former CEO of the board, who reiterated what the others had told us.
We also got in touch with two locals to know if there was any truth in the claims made in the video. However, their responses were very similar to what we were told so far.
Speaking to The Quint, Pushpendra Sharma, a local who runs a shop near the temple said that after the video went viral, the matter escalated, following which Vinod Sharma's family decided to remove the structure.
"After the video went viral, people from an organisation came to the temple and said that the structure should be removed. We all tried to reason with them and said that it was a Hindu family's structure and not a mazar. It was then that Vinod decided to remove the structure."Pushpendra Sharma, Shopkeeper
Sharma also shared a short video clip with us from the location after the structure was removed.
Another resident of the area, Vishnu Jindal, shared the same details with us.
OLD VIDEOS ON THE INTERNET PROVE THE STRUCTURE ISN'T RECENT
We tried locating this structure in earlier videos, as most people said that it was two to three decades old.
For this, we went through various videos and blogs on YouTube to check if we could locate old videos or photos of this structure.
A video from the temple compound, uploaded on 18 February 2022, shows the structure and the green shed in the background.
Another vlog posted by a user on 25 December 2021, showed a wide view of the area, which showed the structure along with the green shed above it.
A third video, uploaded on 8 November 2021, also showed the same structure. However, we noticed a blue cloth on top of it.
We inquired about this and the locals told us that it had nothing to do with Islam or a mazar, but was something several Hindu Brahmin families followed in the region.
Clearly, there is no evidence to back the claim that a new mazar is being built in Jyotisar in Kurukshetra. From the administration to the locals, everyone has unequivocally denied these claims.