A photograph of a man in a burqa has been shared widely on social media along with a message that refers to ‘vote jihad’ in the garb of the burqa. According to the message, the photo represents a man who was caught red-handed trying to vote wearing a burqa. It also refers to BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar Sanjeev Balyan who had alleged ‘fake voting’, saying that voters in burqa were not being checked by poll officials, resulting in bogus voting. Muzaffarnagar voted in the first phase of polling for Lok Sabha on April 11.

The message is in Hindi. It reads, “मुजफ्फरनगर मे संजीव बालियान ने सही मुद्दा उठाया है बुर्का वोट जैहाद को बढावा दे रहा है, मतदान केन्द्र के बाहर ही बुर्के वालियो की जांच हो चेहरे का मिलान हो 72 हूरो की इच्छा रखने वाले ही बुर्के मे हूर बनकर जा रहे है। कई जगह पर ये हूरे बुर्के मे कैद हुई पकडी गई।”

Translation: Sanjeev Balyan has raised the right issue in Muzaffarnagar. Burqa is encouraging vote jihad. Burqa clad persons must be checked outside the poll booth; those wishing for 72 virgins are also going to the booth in burqa. Burqa clad men caught at many places.

The screenshot above is from the public group BJP Mission 2019, and has been posted by a user Tanmay Tiwari. The post has been shared over 2000 times already. It has also been shared close to 800 times from a page Er Rishikant Singh. On Twitter, a tweet by a user Chowkidar Puneet Pandey has been retweeted over 700 times.

Several users have tweeted these photographs, with the identical narrative.

Photo dates back to 2015

Alt News found that photograph had first appeared in the public domain in September 2015. On September 30, 2015, three photographs had been posted by a Facebook user along with the narrative that the person in the burqa is a RSS leader from Gujarat who was caught red-handed throwing beef inside a temple. This is the earliest instance of the photo appearing online, that Alt News could find.

The very next day i.e. on October 1, 2015, the online media publication ScoopWhoop had published an article referring to a Facebook post according to which the apprehended person was a RSS activist.

Alt News could not find a single conclusive news report of the incident. The claim which had circulated back then- that the person is a RSS member, could not be verified. However, it may be noted the photos in question have been circulating on social media since September 2015, and thus cannot be representative of events related to Lok Sabha 2019.

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About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.