A 1:12-minute long video of a group of women atop a water tank burning a piece of cloth, and one of the women immolates herself during the incident, is circulating widely on WhatsApp.
The video has a voiceover dubbing in Urdu. It claims that these women are members of the RSS and in one of their programmes they were attempting to burn a burqa, but due to “divine intervention from God” the fire engulfed one of the women. It also claims that this incident was not reported by any media outlet and should be circulated widely across groups to bring awareness to the incident.
The video is viral against the backdrop of the recent Hijab ban in colleges in Karnataka that has sparked protests. Hindu students, several associated with right-wing organisations, also staged a counter agitation where they adorned saffron shawls.
Alt News has received several requests on its WhatsApp helpline number (+91 76000 11160) to fact-check the authenticity of the claim.
The claim is viral on Facebook at least since 2014. Facebook has blocked the preview of the video due to its sensitive nature. The voice-over on the video is also missing from these posts.
We have attached a post amplifying the claim. Readers should note that the video can be distressing and are advised discretion.
— āzqāāŋşђāįķђ ازقان شیخ (@AzqaanSheikh) February 7, 2022
We performed a keyword search on Google and came across a news report by The Indian Express published in February 2010. The report carries a picture similar to the visuals in the video. According to the report, this group of women were teachers protesting against the Punjab government, demanding degrees under the Elementary Teachers’ Training (ETT) after admission in the course. Five of them climbed the 100-ft high water tank with kerosene and threatened to burn themselves if their demands were not met.
As per the eyewitnesses, the women had no intention of burning themselves, but some “undesirable” comments from the police triggered Kiranjeet (27) to take the action. Kiranjeet is a resident of Faridkot district and by the time the fire was doused she suffered 90 per cent burns.
We also came across a report by NDTV according to which the teacher passed away in a private hospital in Ludhiana, 80 km from the town where the incident took place.
Hence, over a decade-old video is circulating on WhatsApp with the false claim that a woman attempting to burn a burqa accidentally set herself on fire.
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