Delhi’s Jahangirpuri witnessed communal violence during a recently held procession marking Hanuman Jayanti. In the aftermath of the violence, the municipal corporation of North Delhi carried out a demolition drive in Jahangirpuri against “illegal encroachments” with the help of bulldozers. Apart from shops razed in the area’s Muslim-majority C-Block, the revered Jama Masjid’s gate and boundary walls were also destroyed against a status quo order by the Supreme Court.
Following this, videos of temples being demolished in Rajasthan’s Alwar district were widely shared on social media and covered by mainstream media. It was claimed that the Congress government in Rajasthan demolished temples in seeking “revenge” for the demolition of Jama Masjid’s gate in Jahangirpuri. A 300-year-old Shiva temple was among the structures demolished in Sarai Mohalla, Rajgarh in Alwar.
According to a report by Aaj Tak, a master plan was devised for the construction of a “Gaurav Path”. All “encroachments” coming in the way of this construction were removed including the Shiv temple. Congress alleged that the Rajgarh Municipal Corporation where the BJP has a thumping majority was responsible for the decision to demolish the temple whereas the BJP has accused Congress and alleged this was an administrative decision taken by the party.
News18 TV channel ran the story in its show “Desh Nahin Jhukne Denge” with Aman Chopra and claimed thus follows: “जहांगीरपुरी का बदला, महादेव पर हमला ” (Revenge for Jahangirpuri, attack on Mahadev). During the show, a video of the mosque in Jahangirpuri being demolished was shown with graphics suggesting that the event took place on April 20, 2022, while the video of the temple in Alwar being demolished was played stating that it took place two days later on April 22, 2022.
Host Aman Chopra tweeted a part of the show with the question, “जहांगीरपुरी में बुलडोजर का दंड, अलवर में शिवलिंग खंड खंड?” (Bulldozer justice in Jahangirpuri, Shivling broken into pieces in Alwar). Although he later deleted the tweet (archive link). Chopra stated during his show, “It is such a big coincidence that two days after a bulldozer was used to demolish the gate of a mosque in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, three temples were demolished in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. One of the temples is 300 years old. Is this a mere coincidence or are these events interconnected? Is this revenge for Jahangirpuri?” (Archive Link)
On Aaj Tak’s show, “Halla Bol With Anjana Om Kashyap”, the story was run with the graphics “मंदिर पर बदले का बुलडोज़र” (Bulldozer of revenge against temple). BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed on the show that the manner in which Congress attempted to make a legal demolition drive in Jahangirpuri a communal issue, using bulldozers to demolish the temple in Alwar clearly shows that it is an act of revenge. Sambit Patra can be heard making this claim at 4:10 minutes into the broadcast. Another BJP spokesperson, Gaurav Bhatia, made similar claims regarding the demolition of the temple in Alwar insinuating that it is an act of revenge in response to the demolitions that took place in Jahangirpuri. Gaurav Bhatia can be heard making this claim at 9:55 minutes. (Archive Link)
On April 22, 2022, Republic Bharat ran a promo for its 5 PM show claiming that Hindu sentiments have been hurt after the demolition of the temple in Alwar. The channel took a jibe at Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot insinuating the Congress party’s involvement in the demolitions. Himani Naithani, the show’s host, reiterated the claims in a tweet. (Archive Link)
— रिपब्लिक.भारत (@Republic_Bharat) April 22, 2022
A tweet from BJP Rajasthan’s official Twitter handle claimed when the demolition drive against “rioters” in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri was taking place, temples were being razed in Alwar under the Congress government’s watch. This tweet was later deleted. (Archive Link)
These claims are also widely circulating on social media.
Upon performing a keyword search on Google, we found an article published by Aaj Tak. The report mentions that the Alwar district administration carried out the demolition of the “encroachments” on April 17 and 18. We also found a tweet dated April 17, by Zee Rajasthan, referring to the demolition of houses and shops in the Alwar district under the Rajgadh master plan. Therefore, this incident had clearly taken place before April 20, when Jama Masjid’s gate was demolished in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri.
We then performed a keyword search on Twitter using the date filter and found two different videos from Alwar documenting the demolition of temples, dated April 18 and 19. The two videos aired on News18 and passed off as events that took place in Alwar on April 22 were already in existence on social media before the demolition drive in Jahangirpuri was carried out on April 20. This means that the temples in Alwar could not have been demolished as “revenge” for Jahangirpuri demolition drive.
The District Collector and Magistrate of Alwar tweeted a press note which also said that “encroachments” were removed on April 17 and 18.
Several mainstream TV channels and BJP leaders and supporters falsely claimed that temples were razed in Alwar as a response to Jama Masjid’s gate being destroyed in a demolition drive in Jahangirpuri. Rajasthan police have reportedly filed an FIR against News18 anchor Aman Chopra under sedition and other sections for publishing a provocative report.
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