No, ISKCON devotees were not assaulted by West Bengal police for distributing Bhagwad Gita

Were members of ISKCON, the Krishna cult, assaulted by police in West Bengal? A video has been circulating aggressively on social media platforms over the past couple of days. It shows some men wearing saffron robes, being harassed by men in khaki uniform.

Violent attack on ISKCON members by West Bengal Police. Their crime was they were selling Bhagwad Geeta.

Posted by Sharma Seema on Monday, May 6, 2019

The above post by a user has been viewed over 10000 times since it was posted on May 7. Several individual users have posted the video on their timelines. It has also been posted in the group WE SUPPORT NARENDRA MODI. It has been claimed that Krishna devotees were stopped by WB police from distributing copies of the Bhagwad Gita.

The video has also been uploaded and posted on Twitter.

Video unrelated, dates back to 2008

The video in question was debunked earlier as well in April 2018, with the same claim. It had also been shared with the claim that the incident had taken place in Goa, where Krishna devotees were attacked by members of the Christian community.

Alt News had come across an article in a Goan news outlet heraldgoa.in dated November 26, 2008. The featured image of the article in heraldgoa.in has the same individual and police officer as can been in the video above.

However, the contents of the article on heraldgoa.in website were truncated, probably because the article is old and their website might have undergone changes in the past 10 years resulting in some of the old articles not being accessible anymore. We found the text of the same article in a 2013 Reddit thread.

The incident had occurred in 2008 in Goa, in which a group of Russian members of the Hare Rama Hare Krishna sect had clashed with the police after the latter tried to stop them following complaints by the locals. Two policemen were injured in the brawl and eight Russians had been booked on charges of rioting and assaulting police.

The claim that this video represents harassment of ISKCON devotees by West Bengal police, is false. Voting is set to take place in several constituencies of West Bengal in the final two phases of polling on May 12 and May 19. As a consequence, there has been a spike in misinformation in the run up to polling.

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