On August 28, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair tweeted a 2:19-minute video recording of a Facebook (FB) Live of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, head priest at Ghaziabad-based Dasna Devi temple. The screen recording of the Live showed that it was uploaded by Narsinghanand’s associate Yati Satyadevanand Saraswati on July 4.

In the now-deleted video, Narsinghanand could be heard saying, “Hear me out… I am giving priceless knowledge… that you won’t find anywhere else… The women you see in politics have or had been mistresses of at least one male politician.” Narsinghanand continued to utter similar vulgar and sexist remarks targeting women in politics from Samajwadi Party and BJP.

A subsequent backlash against Narsinghanad incidentally came from individuals who had previously supported him. BJP supporter Shefali Vaidya and BJP leader Kapil Mishra were among the many people. The latter called Narsinghanad a frustrated man suffering from a “jihadi” mindset and added that he isn’t fit to represent the Jagadamba temple. In April, Mishra had promoted a crowdfunding campaign for Narsinghanad that raised Rs 25 lakh.

Narsinghanad responded to the backlash by posting a video statement where he claimed, “This viral video is very old. Someone edited the video on FB. On FB, there is a Jihadi named Zubair. He has an entire team… Arfa Khanum Sherwani… many women… Jihadi team…The Print, The Wire lifted the video. Heavily edited it… Changed the meaning of the video and released it on social media.”

On August 31, he changed his argument in an interview with The Print. Narsinghanand floated the idea that the ‘edit’ was an inside job. At the 00:59 mark in the report, he said, “The video didn’t go viral. It was made viral. There is a video where I’m talking [in private]. A traitor or jihadi within us came and recorded the video while I was speaking. It isn’t my official statement. It was my view within my group. It was edited and then uploaded on Facebook. What’s shown in the video is something I haven’t said.”

Facebook Live videos cannot be edited

The July 4, 2021 Facebook Live in question has been deleted by Satyadevanand. Alt News has the link to the deleted post. Unlike a regular video upload, FB Live video is broadcasted in real-time and thus cannot be edit unless it is downloaded and re-uploaded.

Several people had downloaded the FB Live. Alt News has a copy of the video and a screen recording of the Live that proves it was not edited.

The now-deleted link of the video establishes that it was posted by a FB user with the profile ID (highlighted in bold) — com/100002533247840/videos/247217473506269/

This number matches the profile ID of Satyadevanand’s FB profile URL (highlighted in green).

Narsinghanand’s associate Yati Satyadevanand Saraswati is pictured below (right) with him.

The screen recording of Satyadevanand’s FB Live is 5:11 minutes long.

Readers should note that Satyadevanand’s profile image (seen in the above video) has been updated since July 4. However, it is still viewable on his profile.

The FB Live was over 5 minutes long and Zubair had tweeted 2:19 minutes of the video.

It must be pointed out, and readers can watch for themselves, that Narsinghanand does not start addressing the camera before the 2:26 mark in the FB Live. This is when he can be heard asking, “Is the WiFi working…?” Prior to 2:26 minutes, he seems to be having an informal conversation with his group and his comments against women politicians were made during this time.

Narsinghanad had also told The Print something similar – “There is a video where I’m talking [in private]. A traitor or jihadi within us came and recorded the video while I was speaking. It isn’t my official statement. It was my view within my group.” This suggests that he wasn’t aware that the Live video was being recorded when he was conversing with his group. But his claim that this portion was edited is completely false. Facebook Live videos cannot be edited. Moreover, it was shared by Narsinghanad’s associate.

During the FB Live, Narsinghanand thanked the men in his company for donating ₹20,000 for religious activities. He later indulged in Hindu supremacy monologue. The FB Live ended with him stating that Hindus are getting aware of the threats in store in the future and realising that fighting is the only way out.

To sum it up, Hindutva preacher Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati falsely alleged that Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair and The Wire journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani edited his FB Live in a way that it changed its meaning. The truth is that the FB Live was uploaded from the account of his associate Yati Satyadevanand Saraswati on July 4. After Zubair pointed out the problematic nature of Narsinghanand’s speech and the social media backlash that followed, Satyadevanand deleted the Live video. National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma tweeted that the NCW had flagged UP police about Narsinghanand. On September 1, Ghaziabad police filed three FIRs against the preacher.

Donate to Alt News!
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people contribute towards the same. Please consider donating in support of this endeavour to fight misinformation and disinformation.

Donate Now

To make an instant donation, click on the "Donate Now" button above. For information regarding donation via Bank Transfer/Cheque/DD, click here.
Tagged:
About the Author

Archit is a fact-checking journalist at Alt News since November 2019. Previously, he has worked as a producer at a TV news channel and as a reporter at a leading English-language daily. In addition to work experience in media, he has also worked as a fundraising and communication manager at an NGO.