A video showing people marching on the streets holding placards and flags and raising pro-Khalistan slogans has gone viral with a claim that it shows the situation in Punjab after the Aam Aadmi Party emerged victorious in the recently-concluded Assembly elections.
The video is being shared in the backdrop of AAP's massive win in the 2022 Punjab polls, where it won 92 of the 117 Assembly seats.
However, we found that the video predates the Punjab election results. We spoke with local journalists in Punjab and found that the rally in the viral video was carried out on 22 February in memory of Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, who died in a road accident on 15 February.
The viral video was shared with a caption that read, "लो पंजाब नई सरकार का तोहफा. खालिस्तानी खेला शुरू हो गया गुरु".
(Translation: See, the gift of new government in Punjab. Khalistani 'game' has started.)
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
Using the InVID WeVerify Google Chrome extension, we extracted keyframes from the viral video and conducted a reverse image search on some them.
We found a tweet with the same video posted on 22 February, more than two weeks before the election results were announced.
The tweet mentioned that the video was from Bhatinda.
While looking at the video closely, we also noticed placards in support of Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu. While one placard read, "Justice for Deep Sidhu" another poster had his photograph on it.
Taking a cue from the tweets, we conducted a keyword search for "Deep Sidhu and Khalistan" and found the viral video posted on the verified Facebook page of NEWJ on 25 February.
The caption said that pro-Khalistan slogans were raised in the memory of Deep Sidhu. It must be noted that pro-Khalistan slogans were also raised in Ludhiana during Sidhu's funeral procession on 16 February.
We then reached out to independent journalist from Punjab, Sandeep Singh, who helped us confirm that the rally was taken out in Punjab's Bathinda on 22 February for Sidhu from Ajit Singh Chowk to Gurdwara Qila Mubarak.
We have reached out to Bathinda police for a statement and this story will be updated as and then we receive a response from them.
Evidently, an old, unrelated video was falsely linked with AAP's victory in Punjab to claim that it shows the condition of the state after the new government took over. It is pertinent to note that Bhagwant Mann, the Chief Minister-designate, will take oath on 16 March.