[Update: This article was published on January 7, 2019 and has been updated with latest posts propagating the same misinformation]

A widely circulating video on social media has been shared with the claim that members of the Hindu community were thrashed by the police after a Hindu man hoisted a saffron flag on his house. Among those who shared the clip is Madhu Kishwar.

The video is massively viral on Facebook and Twitter.

Also viral in January 2019

Facebook page भा.ज.पा : Mission 2019 posted a video on January 2 titled – ‘पाकिस्तान में हिन्दुओ का हाल (The condition of Hindus in Pakistan)’ and captioned it as – ‘इस विडियो को देखने के बाद आपकी भी आँखे भर जायेगी,हो सके तो कुछ और लोगो को जगा देना (Even your eyes will water after watching this video. If possible, wake others up too.)’. At the time of writing this article, the video had 1.3 million views and nearly 40,000 shares.

पाकिस्तान में हिन्दुओ का हाल

इस विडियो को देखने के बाद आपकी भी आँखे भर जायेगी ,हो सके तो कुछ और लोगो को जगा देना

Posted by भा.ज.पा : Mission 2019 on Wednesday, 2 January 2019

The 3:19-minute video shows police entering people’s homes by force and thrashing them with lathis. The women can be heard wailing while the men of the family are taken away. Later parts of the video show more violence instilled on the public. A few other Facebook pages (Narendra Modi PM 2019 and बजरंग दल – चौमूं नगर) also claimed that the incident portrayed the treatment of Hindus in Pakistan.

A Twitter user Dinesh Joshi, who is followed by Prime Minister Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s Office, had tweeted the same video in January 2018. He claimed that a Hindu was thrashed in Pakistan for hoisting a saffron flag on his house.

In January last year, the video was also viral with the same narrative in Telugu.

Fact-check: 2013 video; DOES NOT depict atrocities on Hindus

Upon breaking the video into multiple frames using InVid software and reverse-searching one of the frames on Google, we landed on several fact-check stories. BBC, Boomlive and Hoax or Fact have debunked the video in the past.

BBC spoke to one of its correspondents from Islamabad who informed that the video does not depict Hindus being beaten in Pakistan. It pertains to an incident that took place in Faisalabad in Pakistan’s Punjab province in 2013.

Pakistani media Dunya News, Geo TV and The Express Tribune had reported the event where citizens were thrashed by personnel of Pakistan’s ‘Elite Forces’.

According to Dunya News, “…during a protest against electricity load-shedding in Faisalabad, police entered the houses of protesters and manhandled their women.”

BBC Islamabad correspondent Umar Daraz informed that Faisalabad is prone to electricity shortages but in 2013 the situation turned dire. People took to the streets in protests after complaining of power outages for 14-16 hours a day.

“They had resorted to throwing stones and had also burned down a FESCO office, after which police officers abused and assaulted the protesters,” per a June 2013 Express Tribune report. Three police personnel Babar Masih, Tauseef Ahmed, Abid Hussain were suspended after police excess on Muslim families.

The video of Pakistani ‘Elite Forces’ cracking down upon protesting citizens was, thus, viral as ‘Hindus beaten in Pakistan’.

The man behind the video – Santosh Srivastava

If one notices closely, the video shared by several Facebook pages carries a stamp (in the image below).

Upon scrolling through भा.ज.पा : Mission 2019, we found that a similar stamp has been used in several of its posts. In one of the them, the stamp carried the name – ‘Santosh Srivastava’ and this led us to the Facebook profile of the creator of the video.

Srivastava is associated with a plethora of Facebook pages that churn out misinformation and pro-BJP propaganda posts on a regular basis. One of his most popular pages – बार बार मोदी सरकार – Modi Forever – has over 37 lakh followers. Some of the other pages and groups he is associated with are – WE SUPPORT PM MODI (20+ lakh members), NAMO (45+ lakh followers), I Support Yogi (8+ lakh members), I M With Namo (20+ lakh followers) and Youth 4 UP (13+ lakh followers).

‘Hindus beaten in Pakistan’ video viral since 2014 with varied narratives

An incident where the Pakistani Elite Forces cracked down upon its own people was recently viral in the Indian social media sphere, attempting to show police brutality on the country’s minority Hindu community.

The claim propagated by Santosh Srivastava wasn’t the sole false narrative floating on the internet. The video has been doing rounds with distorted facts in other countries as well. A Persian website ‘Shia News Association’ in 2014 claimed that it depicted Pakistani police excess on Afghan refugees.

In 2015, the video was circulated with the claim that it portrayed Pakistani police brutality on Christians. From a YouTube handle ‘Peace Worldwide’, it attracted over 95,000 views. A Twitter user from Europe, who is followed by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s Office, also shared the identical video with the ‘Christian’ narrative, but in 2017.

Provocative claims circulated on social media are often veiled behind disinformation. It is, therefore, pertinent that social media consumers perform a basic fact-check and not blindly trust the narrative.

About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.