Old incident of fire at Rohingya camp in Delhi shared with hate-filled narrative

A Facebook user Neha Patel, who is followed by 28,000 people on the social networking platform, shared an image of a man surrounded by children. According to the text attached to the photograph, he is a Rohingya Muslim who has no food to eat or clothes to wear but has three wives and eight children. It further claims that the man also has a mobile phone worth Rs 29,000. Patel’s post has been shared 1,700 times.

The complete text reads, “दिल्ली में रोड के किनारे रहने वाला एक लाचार असहाय बेसहारा गरीब #रोहिंग्या जिसके पास खाने और पहनने तक को कुछ नहीं है.बस तीन बीबियां जिसमें दो गर्भवती हैं 8 बच्चे हैं और एक सस्ता सा घटिया वाला सैमसंग 7 C7 pro मोबाइल है जिसकी कीमत मात्र 29000 रुपये है…..हमे इनका जीवनस्तर सुधारना है इसलिए समय पर टैक्स दीजिये….#चुप_रहिए_देश_में_सेक्युलरिज़्म_है” (A helpless poor person on the side a road in Delhi. #Rohigya who has no food to eat and no clothes to wear but has three wives, among whom two are pregnant. He has eight children and just a cheap Samsung C7 pro worth Rs 29,000…we want to improve his standard of living so please file your taxes on time. #Shut_up_there_are_seculars_in_the_country)”

We found that an infographic has also been made out of this post.

On Twitter, one Meera Singh (@meeraremi11), who is followed by the office of union ministers Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman, has also circulated the post (archive).

Fact-check

Reverse-searching the image on Google led us to an April 15, 2018 ground report by News18, which is titled, “Rohingya Lose Their Sanctuary in Delhi to Fire, New Life of Six Years Turns to Ashes.” The image was credited to photographer Debayan Roy.

According to the report, a Rohingya named Haroon had fled persecution in Myanmar. His family, and 52 other Rohingya families, had been living in a makeshift camp Darul Hijrat in Delhi’s Madanpur Khadar since 2012. On April 15, 2018, the camp was engulfed in fire and reduced to ashes. “…the police have ruled out any foul play after teams from the Forensic Sciences Laboratory, BSES Ltd, and the fire department pointed towards a short circuit as the cause of [the] fire,” said the report.

It is to be noted that the News18 report mentions that the residents of the camp were looking for their UN identity card in the rubble. It also adds police’s assurances of rebuilding the asylum and providing fresh IDs, hence, the immigrants were not illegal refugees.

Alt News spoke with Roy, who said, “There was a fire in an asylum Darul Hijrat, which is run by Zakat foundation for Rohingya refugees. This place was found mysteriously burnt one morning. The entire area was completely burnt down. These people [in the picture] were sitting in a corner and the man was basically a father of two. His wife and son were hurt in the fire. The phone that you see in his hand was given to him by the Trust when they were serving food. In fact, he looked at the phone like an alien object. Whatever is claimed on social media is not true. This is a really sad turn of events.”

The incident was reported by several media outlets, including BBC‘s ground report, which quotes DCP Southeast Chinmay Biswal as saying, “Cases of negligence have been registered under the related sections. FSL team and electricity department have investigated the area. The fire department will also submit its report on the cause of the fire. All aspects would be considered to look into the matter.”

A video of The Wire’s ground report is given below.

Recently, another unrelated story was picked up on social media to target Rohingyas. A photo of a young girl featured in a 2017 BBC documentary was shared with a false and communal spin.

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