A video is being shared on social media where a few men wearing skull caps can be seen transferring money from what looks like a donation box to some sacks. Afterwards, they carry those sacks to another room and empty them on the floor. Several boys in skull caps can then be seen organizing/counting the currency notes.

Sharing the video, users claimed that mosques received a lot of donations which were not taxed by the government while donations at temples were taxed and that this money was used by the mosques for ‘Jihad’. Some others claimed that the money which originally belonged to the Shirdi Sai Baba temple was being taken by the mosques.

Twitter user चंद्रशेखर गलगले (@cgalgale) shared the video with a caption in Hindi that can be translated as: “Look, how much money comes into mosques. This money is not taxed. Only temple money is taxed. The government provides salary and pensions to clerics with money from temples, and the donation given in the mosque is used in Jihad against the Hindus. Hindus are blindly stuck with casteism.” The tweet has received over 55,000 views and has been retweeted over 1,000 times. (Archive)

Another Twitter user, Bablu Jain (@BabluJa13567737), shared the same video on June 8 with the caption: “See for yourself where the earnings of Hindus who donated to Shirdi Sai are going”. The tweet has received over 82,000 views and has been retweeted over 2,000 times. (Archive)

Several other users including @mini_razdan10, @Mahaveer_VJ, and @Im_jyotii_ shared the same video with similar claims.

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Fact Check

While watching the viral video closely, we noticed two things: A. The sacks into which the money was being transferred from the box had something written on them in Bengali script, and B. The currency bills were not Indian rupee, they were Bangladeshi Taka.

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Taking a hint from the above we ran a relevant keyword search and came across several news reports and video coverage that related the video to a mosque called ‘Pagla Masjid’ in Bangladesh. We came across a video from May 6 by the Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star on their YouTube channel. The title in Bengali can be translated as: “19 sacks in 8 donation boxes of Pagla Masjid”. The viral clip can be found in bits throughout the video (0.14, 0.52, 1.00, 1.07). The video also mentioned that the mosque opened its donation boxes once every three months to count the amount. Right after Ramadan, the boxes were opened after four months, and that is when this video was shot.

Several other news outlets also reported the above. According to a report by SOMOY TV, the total amount from eight donation boxes was counted to be 5,59,07,689 taka. Foreign currency coins and gold ornaments were also found in the donation box. More than 200 people, including district-level officials, members of the mosque, the assistant general manager of Rupali Bank, more than 100 students of Hafizia Madrasa and some teachers, participated in the counting of 19 sacks of money.

Earlier this year, in January, Pagla Masjid received 4,18,16,744 taka through donation boxes. Bengali newspaper Anandabazaar Patrika reported it.

Pagla Masjid is situated on the banks of Narsunda River in Kishoreganj, it is a popular mosque in Bangladesh. Believing that their wishes will be fulfilled if they pray at this mosque, people from all religions and castes donate generously here.

Therefore, the video that is being circulated with communal claims in India is originally from Bangladesh. The viral claims that the money is unaccounted for or taken from a temple are misleading.

Also, the claim that only temples have to pay tax while mosques and other religious bodies are exempted from the same is false. According to a fact-check report by The Quint, since religious places are often managed by trusts, any income earned from renting out the property for functions or the sale of products or other uses is taxable. To get the exemptions, the trust needs to be registered under Section 12AA of the Income-tax Act, 1961. Thus, provisions for exemptions and taxation exist across religions and not just in the case of temples or mosques.

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