A video of a naked, handcuffed man being beaten up is viral on social media currently, with the claim that he is Mohammed Sharif, the station master and main accused in the Balasore train accident case. Users have also claimed that Sharif was hiding in a madrasa in West Bengal, from where he was arrested by the CBI. Alt News received several fact-check requests for the video on its WhatsApp helpline.
Users have also shared this video on Facebook with the same claim.
The video is also viral on Twitter with the same claim. (Archive)
The first thing to notice in this video is that a man can be heard counting down the beatings in the background. He can be heard saying “…cinco, cuatro, tres..” which is Spanish for “….five, four, three…”. This indicates that the video was not shot in India.
Upon a reverse image search of a key-frame the video, we found several instances of the viral video on Reddit, under the r/NarcoFootage subreddit. One of those instances shows that the video was uploaded two years ago, and another shows that it was uploaded one year ago. The titles of both videos suggest that the man in the video was a thief who was being beaten up by a cartel.
We found a longer version of the video which contains a conversation between the handcuffed man and others present in the room, in Spanish. We will refrain from hyperlinking the video, owing to the nature of the website. The man was asked, “Why did we hit you with the board?” to which he replied, “Because I took something”. They further ask, “What did you take” the response to which is unclear.
So, it is clear that the incident is not related to the Odisha train tragedy.
It is pertinent to note that in the past, there were viral claims that the station master of Bhanaga Bazar rail station, Mohammed Sharif, was absconding after the accident. However, Alt News found that no one named Sharif was a part of the railway station staff at Bahanaga Bazar.
The assistant station master, SB Mohanty, who was on duty, had reportedly fled from the spot after the accident. Subsequently, Mohanty had joined the probe into the accident.
Alt News also discovered that the image imposed at the bottom of the video, allegedly of Mohammed Sharif, was used by digital creator Vikas Chander, in a blog post dated March 2004. The title said: “Kottavalasa Kirandul KK Line”. The man whose photo has been used in the viral posts is identified as the station master of Borra Guhalu railway station in the blog.
Addressing the misleading social media posts claiming that some of the Bahanaga railway staff were absconding, chief public relations officer of South Eastern Railways Aditya Chaudhary clarified that all the staff members were present and cooperating with the inquiry.
#WATCH | Balasore train accident | “A few media reports are coming in that a Bahanaga staff is absconding and missing. This is factually incorrect. The entire staff is present & a part of inquiry. They are appearing before agency,” says Aditya Kumar Chaudhary, CPRO South Eastern… pic.twitter.com/Htc538cIFp
— ANI (@ANI) June 20, 2023
ence, the claims that absconding station master named Mohammed Sharif was found in a Madrasa in Kolkata and beaten up by the CBI, are false. There is no one by that name at the Bahanaga Bazar railway station. An old video of a thief being beaten up by a cartel is being falsely circulated with viral claims.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.