Since January 28, several social media accounts have been posting an image of cars flattened under the debris of a collapsed flyover. As per social media claims, this image is from a 2018 incident that took place in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi. The claims suggest that the contractor of the project is yet to be arrested under the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government.
(Viral text: 5 मई 2018 वाराणसी पुल हादसा याद है वो ठेकेदार योगी को आज तक नही मिल पाया.)
Facebook page Unofficial: Arvind Kejriwal with over one lakh followers posted this claim. This has been shared over 5,000 times.
Similarly, several high network Facebook pages have shared the claim, including BJP mukt Bharat, I Am With Raja Gurjot Singh, INDIA सोशल मीडिया, Samajwadi ItCell. Using the social media monitoring tool, CrowdTangle, we found that the claim was amplified by hundreds of other pages on Facebook [view PDF]. This claim was also made by several Twitter users.
True incident, misleading claim
Alt News performed a reverse image and found that this image is indeed from May 15, 2018, and pertains to an incident that occurred in Varanasi. A bridge near the cantonment railway station area had collapsed. The viral photo is available on the stock image platform Alamy and was clicked by Prabhat Kumar.
The Hindu had reported that the flyover was under-construction and a part of it collapsed, leaving at least 18 dead. The report said, “Around a dozen persons were also injured and at least seven vehicles, including a mini-bus and a tempo, crushed under the girder which fell on the traffic.”
A day after the incident, as per The Hindu, an FIR was lodged at the Sigra police station. It did not name specific individuals but listed supervisory officials, contractors and staff appointed by the UPSBC for various tasks. The following sections were invoked — Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), Section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and Section 427 (mischief) of the Indian Penal Code. Sections 3 and 4 of the Public Property Damage Prevention Act 1984 are also mentioned in the FIR.
Two months later, eight people were arrested. The Director-General of Police Om Prakash Singh told The Wire Hindi that the action was taken based on technical evidence gathered with the help of scientists from the Central Building Research Institute at Roorkee, Uttarakhand. The investigation found that there were several lapses in the construction.
Among those arrested were project managers and engineers and contractor Saheb Hussain. In the same month, Police Commisnerate Varanasi tweeted a statement that lists the same names of those arrested. As per this statement, 15 people had died. Alt News spoke with the SHO of Sighra police station who informed, “The social media claim is false. Eight people were arrested including the contractor.”
To sum it up, prior to the upcoming UP elections several social media accounts shared a misleading narrative of a 2018 incident from Varanasi. As per the claim, in 2018, a flyover had collapsed in Varanasi but almost four years later the contractor is yet to be arrested. However, according to media reports and the police, eight people were arrested, including the contractor.
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