Video Editor: Ashutosh Bharadwaj
As Delhi witnessed violence over the contentious citizenship law, multiple unverified messages and videos have been circulating on social media with a claim that these protests are paid for.
This is just one of the many fake news stories which did the rounds before, during and after the violence in Delhi, with an intent to flare up communal tension.
The video, which shows women standing in a queue and receiving money, is being massively shared on social media with a claim that suggests that the incident happened in Shaheen Bagh, which has become the symbol of anti-CAA protests.
However, The Quint’s WebQoof team found out that the video is neither from Shaheen Bagh nor are the women being paid to protest.
The video was shared by the likes of television commentator Tarek Fatah on Twitter, alleging that the video from Delhi “speaks for itself”.
Governor of Meghalaya Tathagata Roy also shared the video with a similar claim.
The video has also surfaced on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
During the course of our investigation, we found that the video is from Old Mustafabad area in northeast Delhi and the women, who had moved to this locality after the violence in Shiv Vihar, were being given relief material. So, where does the money come in from?
Let’s take a look at all the claims one by one.
1. Not Shaheen Bagh, But Old Mustafabad
While searching for the video online, we came across a story titled, ‘In riot-hit Delhi areas, long queues for food, ration, many open kitchens to others’, published in The Indian Express on 1 March 2020. While the story wasn’t from the same locality, the reporter put us in touch with relief workers who are helping the victims of Delhi violence.
The relief worker, who has requested anonymity, told us that the area shown in the video is Old Mustafabad. We further came across a Facebook post by a social activist from Chennai, Chandra Mohan, who visited the same area.
Mohan told us that the area in question is ‘Gali Number 9 in Old Mustafabad’s Babu Nagar Area’.
The Quint too visited the same area and we can confirm that the video was shot in Old Mustafabad’s Gali Number 9 as opposed to the claims of Shaheen Bagh in the viral posts.
We could match multiple visual similarities which prove that the video is from Old Mustafabad and not Shaheen Bagh.
We could also match the brick wall in the background and the helmet lying in the garbage dump.
Further, Old Mustafabad is nearly 30 kilometres away from Shaheen Bagh.
2. Were the Women Paid to Protest?
We also spoke to Shahzad Malik, the local entrepreneur in Old Mustafabad, who was seen distributing the money in the viral video. On being questioned about the video, Malik told us that he gave money to women who had come from Shiv Nagar after their houses were burnt or attacked following the violence in Delhi.
“Some relief material had come from Jamia and we made an announcement about it. Several women came to take it. But after the supplies got over, some women were left out . So I gave them Rs 500. I didn’t know that something I did to help them will backfire like this,” he added.
Malik stays in the house outside which the video was shot after the relief material got over and he distributed money.
We also got in touch with Saira, a resident of the same area, who shot the video. Saira stays on the first floor of Malik’s house and she told us that the incident happened on 28 February and the viral video was indeed shot by her.
“When the ration got over, several women started crying. So Shahzad bhai felt bad and distributed Rs 500 notes to them,” she added.
Past Cases of Fake News Around Delhi Violence
Fake messages and videos were used to incite communal violence before, during and after the Delhi unrest. The Quint has debunked several such claims made in the past.
Amid the violence, video of a mosque being vandalised in Delhi’s Ashok Nagar area started doing the rounds on social media. The video showed men climbing on top of the mosque’s minaret, carrying a saffron flag and the tricolour, and vandalising it amid cheers and shouting in the background.
To counter this narrative, some social media users started propagating that the video was from ‘Samastipur in Bihar’ and that it was old. The Quint visited the location and found that Badi Masjid, located in Gali Number 5 of Ashok Nagar, was burnt and vandalised. According to eyewitnesses and those living near the mosque, houses of locals around it were also looted and gutted.
Some social media users also shared his photograph with the claim that he was the same man seen in BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s video. Mishra, who was present at a pro-CAA rally in Maujpur on 23 February, had given a three-day ultimatum to Delhi Police, adding that if the roads are not cleared in the next three days, they will ‘take charge of the situation’.
However, the man who who fired shots in Jaffrabad is neither Anurag Mishra, nor he is the same man seen in Kapil Mishra’s video.