Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
A video showing fire at what seems to be a Durga Puja pandal and its surrounding areas has been shared by several people in social media with a claim that it is from Rangpur, Bangladesh.
The claim goes on to say the video shows scenes after "a Muslim mob set fire to a Hindu village in Pirganj upazila of Rangpur".
While a similar incident did take place in Pirganj Upazila of Rangpur, wherein a mob attacked homes belonging to the Hindu community, this video being shared with the claim is actually from an incident that took place in Dhalai, Tripura.
A Durga Puja pandal and four adjoining shops caught fire on the intervening night of 12 and 13 October in Maracherra market.
A verified Twitter handle called Bangladesh Hindu Unity Council (@UnityCouncilBD) posted two tweets, one of which carried the video, and said, "The situation in Rangpur is dire at the moment. Homes and temples of Hindus have been burnt down. Muslim mob has set fire to a Hindu village in Pirganj upazila of Rangpur district. @UNHumanRights"
The same video and tweet was used by TV9 Bharatvarsh, Dainik Bhaskar, India Today, Hindustan Times, India Today Malayalam, ABP News, Live Mint and OpIndia in their reports talking about Bangladesh.
WHAT WE FOUND
Using the InVID WeVerify Google Chrome extension, we extracted some keyframes from the viral video and conducted a reverse image search on some of the keyframes using relevant keywords.
This led us to a news report published in Assam-based media outlet Time8 on 14 October that carried a screenshot from the viral video.
According to the news report, "four shops along with Durga Puja pandal were ablaze on the midnight of Tuesday at Maracherra market in Dhalai district of Tripura."
We conducted a keyword search in Bengali and found the same video published on Tripura-based news channel PB24 News' Facebook page.
According to the reporter, a fire broke at around 3:30 am on the day of Ashtami (8th day) of Durga Puja celebrations. The reporter says that the cause of the fire was not yet determined. The video report also shows the aftermath of the fire.
We then contacted a local journalist in Tripura, Tanmoy Chakraborty, who confirmed that the video was indeed from Tripura. Chakraborty told us that Tripura Fire and Emergency Services informed that the fire was most likely due to a short-circuit.
WHAT HAPPENED IN RANGPUR, BANGLADESH?
According to several news reports, a group of people attacked homes belonging to people from the Hindu community in Rangpur’s Pirganj upazila allegedly because of a social media post that hurt religious sentiments of the Muslims.
A report published in the Dhaka Tribune said around 65 Hindu homes were torched during the attack.
The local Union Parishad Chairman Md Sadequl Islam told Dhaka Tribune, “They attacker belonged to the local units of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir”.
Communal tensions increased in Bangladesh over an alleged incident of blasphemy that insulted the country’s Muslim majority. Some Muslims groups attacked Durga Puja celebrations, temples and protests were also seen.
According to a report in the Associated Press, the incidents of vandalism were triggered after a photo showing a copy of Quran at the feet of a statue of Hindu God in Cumilla district went viral. A report in the PTI said that at least five people had lost their lives in the incidents.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on Thursday, had vowed that the perpetrators of communal violence against the Hindu minority community would be punished.
BHBCUC DENIES LINK WITH VERIFIED TWITTER HANDLE
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC), whose Twitter post was used by several media agencies to report on the incident, has said that the Twitter account is a fake one.
BHBCUC in a Facebook post on 16 July said that "Account claiming official twitter account of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC) is totally false."
"We would like to mention that excepting Facebook, Email and Parishadbarta BHBCUC has no other account (sic)," the statement added.
We checked the Twitter handle (@UnityCouncilBD) and found that the handle was previously known as @HinduarmysUnity and the name of the account was "Bangladesh Hindu Unity Council" in April.
An archived tweet from the @HinduarmysUnity account now leads to the verified account of BHBCUC.
Archive link from Wayback Machine.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)
The tweet on the verified profile.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)
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