A video showing some people picking up crates of tomatoes from the back of a tempo and throwing them on the ground has been shared by several news outlets and social media users.
The short clip is being shared claiming people in Pakistan – which is receiving international aid in the aftermath of nationwide floods – were destroying Iranian tomatoes sent to Pakistan, since they came from a Shia-dominated (a sect in Islam) country.
However, the claim is false. The video shows farmers from Pakistan's Qalat region in Balochistan destroying crates of imported Iranian tomatoes, fearing losses for their own crops, which were ready to be sold in the markets.
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WHAT WE FOUND OUT
Using InVID, a video verification extension, we divided the video into multiple keyframes and ran a reverse image search. The results returned a a tweet shared by senior Pakistani journalist Murtaza Solangi's verified account.
In his tweet, Solangi noted that the video showed "farmers/traders from Mangochar, Qalat," destroying tomatoes and other vegetables imported from Iran.
Taking a cue from this, we looked for reports on the incident and came across one published by Pakistani news organisation, Dawn News, which carried the video in question.
It said that farmers and farm owners from the Mangochar area of Pakistan's Qalat district blocked the Quetta-Karachi highway, protesting against the import of tomatoes.
The protesters stopped a vehicle loaded with Iranian tomatoes and threw them to the ground, stating that they would not allow tomatoes to be imported as their crops were "ready to go to the market."
It added that the farmers were against the imports, as the prices of onions and tomatoes had sharply risen due to the floods across the country, but later fell due to imports from Iran and Afghanistan.
We also found a report by Pakistani news portal GeoNews, which also mentioned that the farmers destroyed the imported tomatoes, as they feared losses for their own crops, which would have to be sold at lower prices.
The Quint reached out to Pakistani journalist Tanveer Lehri, who corroborated the information found in the reports.
"There is absolutely no religious conflict in this. The incident happened because the farmers were already angry due to the floods. The area is the coastal highway, at a place called Mangochar."Tanveer Lehri, journalist
Lehri added that the man in the viral video was identified as Hafeez Ur Rehman Lango, and was arrested.
Haji Abdul Aziz, a representative of the Balochistan Zamindars Association – the body which organised the protest – said that the Association condemned the destruction of tomatoes, distancing itself from the incident. He said that their protest was "peaceful," as per an IANS report.
Evidently, news outlets misreported on the incident and gave it a false sectarian angle. The video actually shows farmers throwing imported Iranian tomatoes on the road to protest imports, as their locally grown tomatoes were ready to be sold.
(With inputs from Siddharth Sarathe.)