A Facebook user Hindu Akhilesh Gupta, on August 31, shared an image of a woman stripped naked, chased down the street and beaten by a group of men. The narrative used to circulate the photograph suggested that a Hindu woman was thrashed by Congress workers for chanting pro-BJP and pro-Modi slogans at their rally in West Bengal. The post was shared 15,000 times.
Hindu Akhilesh Gupta’s bio reads that he ‘works for Bharatiya Janata Party’. His timeline is a collection of posts favouring the government and those criticising Opposition parties, oftentimes with the use of provocative narrative.
The image and its accompanying text was also circulated by several others on social media, including one Pritam Rituji. He describes himself as “भाजपाई हूँ (I am BJP)” on Twitter and is followed by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s Office.
2007 photograph from Assam
Alt News reverse searched the image on Google and found that it has been circulating with the identical narrative for some time now. It was shared in a group called We Support Narendra Modi Ji in 2016 and by several individual users in 2017.
However, we found that the image does not pertain to West Bengal but is of an incident that took place in Assam in 2007. The state’s Adivasi tea workers had taken out protest marches to demand inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes list. As a response to the protests, angry local residents attacked the Adivasi woman in the picture. The incident was covered by various media outlets at the time, including The Times of India, News18 and The Telegraph. SM Hoaxslayer had debunked the fake news last year.
West Bengal has often been targeted by right-wing users on social media to portray the state as “anti-Hindu”. Alt News has busted several cases of misinformation along religious lines ascribed to Bengal in the past (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Any information propagated using provocative language or imagery should be verified before circulating it further.
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