On October 15, ISKCON Noakhali tweeted that its devotees were violently attacked and a temple was vandalised in Bangladesh’s Noakhali. It also claimed that a devotee was killed in the recent communal violence. Another Twitter handle claimed that two sadhus of ISKCON temple, Nitai Das and Jatan Saha Prabhu, lost their lives in the violence. It is noteworthy that the news has not been confirmed by credible media outlets.
In the backdrop of this, an image of a caucasian monk serving food to Muslim men has been shared with the claim that he is Nitai Das.
BJP supporter Ram Niwass Yadav, who has over three lakh followers on Facebook, shared the photo. He wrote that Nitai used to “feed the serpent milk”, which is an old Hindi idiom meaning that helping evil persons (referring to Muslims) is a harmful, foolish deed.
“सांप को दूध पिलाना” कहावत सुनी होगी आपने…
अब देख लीजिए…
ये है इस्कॉन मंदिर के स्वामी निताई दास रमजान में रोजा इफ्तारी करवाते हुए…
बांग्लादेश मे कल इनकी भी हत्या कर दी गयी है। 👇
Similarly, several Facebook accounts such as Bihar Supports, श्री बजरंग सेना, Aditya krishna giri- president international hindu sena, and Deepak Rana Page posted this claim.
Twitter user @Lost_Temples also circulated the image.
“सांप को दूध पिलाना” कहावत सुनी होगी आपने , अब देख लीजिए , ये है इस्कॉन मंदिर के स्वामी निताई दास रमजान में रोजा इफ्तारी करवाते हुए !
बांग्लादेश में कल इनकी भी हत्या कर दी गयी है !! pic.twitter.com/FgHnOma8cD
— Ruchika (@Lost_Temples) October 18, 2021
Alt News spoke with a Bangladesh-based journalist covering the attack on ISKCON temple to get more details about the incident. On the request for anonymity, the journalist said, “The situation is very dark. It’s unfortunate that the state has stopped the media from reporting these incidents. But as per my knowledge, there are no deaths reported of a white male in the recent communal violence incidents in Bangladesh.”
ISKCON Noakhali posted on Facebook that the dead body of a devotee named Pranta Chandra Das was recovered from a pond at the temple.
Where is the viral image from?
The viral image dates back to 2016 and was found through a reverse image search. It was published by UCA News. The photo credit is given to photographer Raghu Nath and the caption reads, “A monk from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) offers sweetmeats to Muslims during Iftar at the Hindu group’s temple in Mayapur on 22 June .” Mayapur is a town 130 kilometres from Kolkata, West Bengal.
An old image from West Bengal was thus, shared against the backdrop of communal violence in Bangladesh and ISKCON Noakhali claiming that a devotee was killed. The viral image doesn’t show a white monk who was killed in the violence.