A two-minute video depicting military personnel standing near an army truck is doing the rounds on social media. In the video, some men accuse the officials in uniform of canvassing for the BJP and casting proxy votes in the party’s favour. Social media users have shared the video and linked the incident to the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress leader Arunesh Kumar Yadav (@YadavArunesh) shared the clip on X (Twitter) and wrote, “See the lowest level of democracy. Army jawans were given the responsibility of casting fake votes! Now there is no need to say on whose orders all this is happening because votes are being cast in favour of BJP!! How low will the people of BJ Party stoop to in politics just to win one election? How much will you shame democracy? How much will you trouble the common people? Just keep watching!!”

Readers should note that Yadav has been found by Alt News peddling misinformation in the past.

Several users shared the video with similar claims on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and YouTube (Video- 1, 2, 3).

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Alt News has received several requests on its WhatsApp helpline for authenticating the clip.

Fact Check

We broke down the viral video into key frames using Invid software and then reverse-searched one of the images on Google. This led us to a 2019 YouTube video uploaded by ‘SHAAN E KASHMIR’. The video was uploaded on May 3, 2019. This shows that the incident is at least 5-year old and is not related to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Taking a cue from this, we performed a Google keyword search with a specific time filter, which led us to a 2019 ANI report titled, ‘MP: Army officers claim miscreants obstructed them from casting votes, lodge complaint’. The report stated, “Army officials in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur have filed a complaint against unidentified miscreants for allegedly trying to snatch their voter ID cards of general voters, obstructing Army voters posted in Cantonment there and circulating videos to malign the Army’s image, on April 29.”

The ANI report also featured the complaint letter which saied, “On 29 April 2019, day of voting for Parliamentary Elections, soldiers and their spouses of the Grenadiers Regimental Centre proceeded to cast their votes on a bona fide transport viz Army vehicle at Booth no 146, Swami Vivekananda Higher Secondary School, Katanga, Jabalpur. At booth no 146 when the soldiers of the Indian Army were in the process of exercising their right to vote, certain miscreants approached and snatched their voter identity cards by using criminal force and tried to obstruct them from casting their votes. ”

The letter further mentioned that “…By circulating the video in the social media there has been a deliberate attempt by the unidentified miscreants to malign the image of the Indian Army and its soldiers participating peacefully in the democratic process.”

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In a 2019 Times of India report, Lt. Gen GS Sangha, who also served as the Colonel of the Grenadiers Regiment, explained the incident and wrote, “On 29 April 2019, polling was in progress in Jabalpur. Army sent its troops, including families and recruits to vote in Jabalpur as Constitutionally provided, after registering them as Service voters wherever they are posted because they cannot be sent back to their hometowns to vote on that day. Can you imagine the entire Army leaving the borders to go home and vote? Army vehicle is parked a kilometre away on a main road. They all go to the polling booth and start voting in a disciplined manner, guided and controlled by their seniors only for their conduct in public and not to tell them who to vote for, as good Armies always do everything in good faith.”

Sangha added, “The goons of some political party do not know that the Constitution allows Army people to vote wherever they are posted after proper registration and issue of voter cards. They think the Army cannot vote there and that the ruling party is rigging the elections forcibly by using the Army. The goons start a ruckus. Army people walk back peacefully to their vehicle. They are chased by political goons who make a video saying whatever they want. Armymen avoid talking to them as per orders not to get involved with rogues. The goons and many irresponsible countrymen among us make the video viral…Army has today lodged an FIR and a complaint with EC.”

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To sum up, a video showing Indian army officials being accused of canvassing for the BJP and casting proxy votes in the party’s favour has gone viral on social media. Users have shared the video and linked the incident to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, our fact check revealed that the video was from 2019. A senior official of the Indian National Army had refuted the viral claim and an FIR was lodged against the people who recorded the video. According to the officials, the army officials depicted in the viral clip were neither canvassing for any political party nor were they casting proxy votes. They were trying to cast their own votes in a booth in Jabalpur.

Abira Das is an intern at Alt News.

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