A Dalit woman’s alleged gang-rape in Hathras sparked protests in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi after UP police cremated the victim’s body against her family’s consent. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s handling of the case came under heavy criticism with opposition leaders demanding Adityanath’s resignation.
On October 1, a huge contingent of police was deployed at Delhi-UP border as Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi set out to visit the deceased’s kin. A scuffle with the cops led to their arrest. The duo was subsequently permitted to meet the victim’s family on October 3. However, videos of their first attempt to travel to Hathras were widespread as Rahul reportedly fell to the ground during the confrontation with policemen.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Pratap Arunbhau shared a photograph suggesting Rahul held a cop by his collar.
— Pratap Arunbhau Adsad (@PratapAdsad_) October 1, 2020
Twitter user Rishi Bagree, a vocal supporter of the BJP who has shared misinformation on several occasions, promoted the same.
Rahul Gandhi holding collar of an on-duty policeman pic.twitter.com/3M7LxEuFgL
— Rishi Bagree (@rishibagree) October 2, 2020
Media outlet Republic broadcast a show where a blurry video of Rahul’s scuffle with cops was played for viewers while the anchor claimed that the Congress leader ‘fell for the camera’. The channel claimed that the video clearly shows he ‘fell himself’.
The popular English language adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” has little relevance in a case where videos can provide a thorough context. BJP members and supporters of the party shared a screengrab of a video instead of sharing the actual clip.
There are two videos of the confrontation that show Rahul falling to the ground. In the first video, he is walking towards Hathras as policemen attempt to stop him. A cop can be seen roughing him up and holding the Congress leader by his collar. “Maaro mujhe maaro (hit me),” Rahul says to the cop.
लाला लाजपत राय ने कहा था मेरे तन पर पड़ा लाठी का एक एक वार अंग्रेजी राज के ताबूत में आखिरी कील साबित होगा।
राहुल जी और प्रियंका जी के काफिले पर चल रहीं लाठियां भी योगी सरकार के ताबूत में आखिरी कील साबित होंगी। pic.twitter.com/cVYzJnO2A7
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 1, 2020
Another video shot from the side where Rahul falls shows the same cop holding his collar and the Congress leader subsequently falling to the ground.
Visual analysis cannot establish the strength of the policemen’s push — if it was powerful enough for Rahul to fall. However, the videos do show cops roughing him up.
But we digress.
The photograph promoted by BJP MP Adsad to suggest it was Rahul who heckled a cop is a screenshot of a third video which was tweeted by Congress. This video shows the events leading up to the fall.
The Congress leader is surrounded by policemen who attempt to stop him from walking toward Hathras. As they obstruct him, one of the cops comes in front of Rahul and back peddles while facing him. The Congress MP puts his hand on the cop’s chest and shoves him to the left. His hand does not reach up to the policeman’s collar.
The claim that Rahul Gandhi held a policeman by his collar is therefore false.
As far as Republic is concerned, the channel declared that the Congress leader “fell himself” based on a mere clip. This fact-check had earlier pointed out that it’s not possible to decipher the strength of a push through the viral videos. But screenshot posted by BJP MP Pratap Arunbhau Adsad does not show Rahul Gandhi holding a cop by his collar.