A video of a youth thrashing an elderly man has been shared by several users with the claim that a sadhu was beaten by a Muslim man in Uttarakhand. Below is a tweet by one Nitin Shukla which reads, “Palghar wasn’t an accident but an experiment. Now sadhus are being lynched in different places. The one beating him is a Muslim. Will it be you tomorrow? They will enter your house and kill you? Just like Delhi? If you want to save yourself, send these terrorists to jail. It seems the incident is from Lane C-15, Turner Road, Dehradun.” Shukla’s tweet has over 16,000 views and 1,500 shares (archive).

[Translated from: #Palghar संयोग नही प्रयोग था, अब अलग अलग जगह साधुओं की लीनचिंग की जा रही है, मारने वाले मुसलमान हैं, कल आपका नंबर आने वाला है? ये सब आपको घर मे घुस कर मरेंगे? दिल्ली की तरह? बचना है तो इन आतंकवादियों को जेल भिजवाओ, मामला Lane C-15, Turner Road, Dehradun का मालूम पड़ता है.]

Another user Hari Shankar Tiwari shared the video (archive) and wrote, “To hell with those who say we obsess over Hindu-Muslim.”

[Also read: Palghar lynching incident falsely communalised on social media]

Viral in 2018

A twitter handle @Imamofpeace tweeted in the morning of September 2, 2018, “Islamic Extremists in India beating up a poor and elderly Indian beggar. I truly wish this Islamist criminal is arrested soon. @narendramodi.” He shared the same video and within six hours, it was retweeted over 3,300 times. It’s achieved version can be accessed here.

Bollywood actor Koena Mitra was among those who retweeted the video, however, with the additional claim that the man who was beaten up was a “Naga Sadhu”. She too has retracted the tweet without any clarification (archive).

Squint Neon and Postcard Telugu also jumped the gun to declare that a Naga Sadhu was thrashed by members of the Muslim community in Uttarakhand. Squint Neon deleted the tweet without an explanation.

The video was also circulated by Anant Srivastava at 5:25 am on September 2, 2018. Srivastava is the founder of a website called Bharat Herald that regularly posts pro-BJP articles. His tweet was retweeted by author Rajiv Malhotra and Shefali Vaidya.

Editor of MyNation Abhijit Majumdar circulated the video as well with the identical claim that the man assaulted was a Naga Sadhu.

There were several other individual users who shared the video on social media.

The earliest instance Alt News found was by a Twitter handle called @s_rajesh007 on August 30, 2018, at 3:31 am. The user posted a Facebook link with the tweet which is now deleted.

Not a Naga Sadhu. Not beaten up by Muslim youth.

Alt News contacted the SHO of Patel Nagar, Dehradun who told us that the incident was being circulated with a false narrative on social media. “The man who was beaten up is not a Naga Sadhu, but a beggar. He is married and has six children. He went to a house to beg for food and molested the woman who brought him tea and biscuits.”

The SHO further said that he was beaten up by the woman’s brother, who was not Muslim but belonged to a Hindu family. An FIR has been registered against the beggar who was heavily intoxicated when he molested the woman. He is now in police custody.

The official twitter handle of Dehradun police also put out a statement clarifying that claims floating on social media are baseless. “The man is an imposter against whom a complaint has been filed for molesting a woman while being intoxicated.”

The police tweeted another clarification on the misleading allegations and informed that the man who was beaten up impersonated a beggar for alms. “Sushil Nath is an addict who has been involved in such cases in the past as well. On 24.08.2018, he entered a house and molested a woman, following which he was beaten up by the woman’s brother Shubham and other locals.”

A false narrative was manufactured by the usual suspects to support propaganda against members of the Muslim community. Actor Koena Mitra has been called out in the past for tweeting a fake love jihad rate card. Similarly, Squint Neon falsely blamed Muslims for perpetrating violence during Kanwar Yatra. When provocative information is circulated by familiar handles, it needs to be treated with suspicion and crosschecked with facts.

[Update: This article was updated on May 16, 2020, to include tweets that revived the false claim.]

About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.