Tamara Yesmin Toma

Research Officer, Dismislab
Incident not in Bangladesh; false communal violence rumours spread via Pakistani video

Incident not in Bangladesh; false communal violence rumours spread via Pakistani video

Tamara Yesmin Toma

Research Officer, Dismislab

A video (1, 2) recently surfaced on social media platforms, claiming to show a Bangladeshi Hindu family screaming after  being attacked by Muslims in Gouranadi, Barisal district last year. However, verification reveals that the video actually originated from Pakistan.  It portrays the mourning of a Hindu girl’s family after she was murdered in Sindh province of Pakistan in 2022.  The video from Pakistan, accompanied by a similar claim in Hindi, went viral following rumors of communal attacks amidst a recent election violence in Barisal.

On May 2, political violence occurred around the Union Parishad elections in Gouranadi, Barisal, Bangladesh. Following the incident, a video featuring statements from family members was circulated on  social media with Hindi captions, alleging it to be a communal attack. However, a  fact-check report revealed that the incident was not communal.  Upon verification, it was found that the video had been falsely labelled, in Hindi language, as a communal attack. The video purportedly showed Muslims attacked a Hindu family in Barishal’s Gouranadi area last year.  Dismislab has verified that this video was indeed from Pakistan. Additionally,  Dismislab reached out to a journalist and a fact-checker in Pakistan to gather more information on the matter. The Center for Social Justice Pakistan also confirmed after their inquiry that the video depicts Pooja’s family.

Promoting Barisal election violence as ‘communal’

In the video depicting election violence in Barisal, one of the victim’s relatives is heard saying: “All the troubles are about upazila elections.  If they can kill, the post will be  clear. When the Union Parishad elections were held last time, he had an accident, that is to say, they caused the accident with a car.”

However, the Hindi caption accompanying h the video does not contain these words.

The caption in Hindi reads: “This is a heart-wrenching lament from a Hindu family in Bangladesh. A Hindu family was attacked by Muslims in Gauranadi of Barisal district.

Hindus are being killed in the Islamic country Pakistan.

Hindus are being killed in the Islamic country Bangladesh.

Hindus are being killed in India too.”

On the same day, using similar captions a different video (1, 2) was circulated on social media, claiming it from Barisal, Bangladesh. 

On the same day, another video (1, 2) with similar captions was circulated on social media, claiming it to be from Barisal, Bangladesh.

The caption of this video read: “This heartbreaking lament is from a Hindu family in Bangladesh. Last year, Muslims attacked Hindu families in Gouranadi, Barisal district. Torturing infidels is considered a virtuous act in Islam. It earns a place in Allah’s eyes. Such is written and said. See the consequences.” It further states, “Congress (an Indian political party) is responsible for this, given the demands of religious people who cannot coexist with other religions;  Muslims divided the country demanding separate land”.

Verification reveals the two Facebook IDs, Thakur Prakash Singh and Sanatan Hitkarini Nyas, among others, have spread the video. Both the IDs  identified themselves as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists.

The 25-second video was found on the Twitter handle Voice of Pakistan Minorities posted in March 2022.  The caption read, “Pooja Kumari was brutally killed by Waheed Bux Lashari for resisting her kidnapping. His plan was to forcefully convert and marry her after kidnapping. Look at the condition of the girl’s family”.

The video is also available in a report by Indian media Mojo Story titled “Hindu girl shot dead in Pak following refusal to convert“.  A Youtube channel, named Pakistan News, also aired the same video.

Not from Barishal, but from Pakistan

Dismislab reached out to Pakistani journalist Lubna Jerer to determine if the individuals depicted in the circulating video, are members of the tortured Hindu family of Bangladesh, or of Pooja Kumari’s family.

Lubna Jerar stated, “The incident is from 2022.  This Twitter handle, Voice of Pakistan Minority, is also credible.  Some reliable people are following it.  But I’m not sure if the handle is from Pakistan or run by Pakistanis”.

Dismislab also spoke to Sameen Aziz, a fact-checker from Soch, a Pakistani fact-checking organisation.  Azia confirmed  that this is an incident of Pakistan, which also appeared in various media at that time in 2022.

A report by Vice can be found further examining the video.  A picture of Pooja Kumari’s mother Rabia Oud was published in the report. Clothing of the crying woman in the video matches the photo published by Vice.  In other words, the video circulating as the incident of Barisal, Bangladesh is actually of the family of Pooja Kumari, a Hindu teenager who was killed in Pakistan.  From this, it can be confirmed that the video circulated as the video of Barisal, Bangladesh is actually of the family of Pooja Kumari, a Hindu girl killed in Pakistan.

“An 18-year-old girl from the Hindu community was gunned down on Monday near the Chhuahra Mandi area of Sukkur,” reported Dawn newspaper in Pakistan about Pooja Kumari’s murder.

Quoting the local Sukkur Station House Officer (SHO) Bashir Jagirani, the report further said, “A person named Wahid Bux Lashari has been identified as the killer. Lashari entered Pooja Kumari’s house with two accomplices and opened fire on her.  Officials said Lashari wanted to marry the girl but she refused.”

In addition to Dawn, Pakistan’s Express Tribune and Al-Jazeera published detailed reports on the incident.

Another video, circulated with the same caption, was posted on May 4 by a Twitter handle, namely Hindu Voice in India.  It read, “Violence of Hindu minority continues in #Bangladesh. 

Another video, circulated with the same caption, was posted on May 4 by a Twitter handle named Hindu Voice in India. It read, “Violence against the Hindu minority continues in #Bangladesh. #Islamists stabbed and thrashed a Hindu yesterday during upazila elections in Gournadi of Barisal district.”  However, the factchecking report states that the video was from Bangladesh, but it was not a communal attack.  The video is seen being shared by many others on social media (1, 2) using almost the same Hindi caption.

From the verification of the video from Bangladesh, it appears to primarily depict a clash between two groups of Awami League centred on the election of Gouranadi Upazila Parishad in Barisal. Members of the opposition group attacked and injured Saikat Guha, Chairman of Mahilara Union Parishad and Joint General Secretary of Upazila Awami League. After the attack, interviews with family members were conducted by the news media. A video of these interviews is being shared on social media with incorrect captions, falsely portraying the incident as communal violence.

Prior to this incident, there have been instances of spreading fake news in India by giving communal angles to various events in Bangladesh. Recently, a case of harassment of a young woman in Mohammadpur, Bangladesh was circulated in India with claims of Muslims sexually assaulting a Hindu girl. Eventually, Indian fact-checkers refuted the claim.