(Note: The author of this article is affiliated with professional shooting sports.)

Against the backdrop of the recent communal clashes in Haryana’s Nuh, a video of a man in a white shirt openly firing a rifle has been making the rounds on social media. A number of users shared it claiming the man was a Bajrang Dal worker.

Zee News claimed in its report that the people seen in the video carrying weapons were actually police officers in plain clothes. The outlet showed a total of three people with weapons in their hands — Two were carrying automatic weapons while the man in the white shirt was seen firing from a bolt-action rifle. Zee News aired the footage of this individual firing the gun, claiming he was not a Bajrang Dal worker, but a policeman. The Zee News reporter added that along with Haryana ADG Mamta Singh, many policemen were present at the spot in plain clothes. The tweet was later deleted. (Archived link)

Fact Check

Alt News noticed that the two men seen in plain clothes were holding a gas-operated automatic assault rifle, which was not authorized for use by common citizens of India. On the other hand, the man in the white shirt was seen carrying a 0.315″ bolt-action sporting rifle with the wooden stock replaced with a synthetic stock, which civilians are authorized to carry with a licence. Civilian licence holders often get the weapon modified to bend the butt of the weapon, so that it looks modern and takes up less space. It is also worth noting that policemen are not allowed to modify weapons according to their needs. In fact, the man in the white shirt has a civil trade weapon in his hand which can be bought by any Indian citizen with a licence. However, the other policemen present were seen carrying automatic state-of-the-art weapons, as seen in the Zee News coverage.

We reached out to Haryana ADG Mamta Singh for more information on the matter. On the issue of civil dress, he informed us that when the atmosphere deteriorated, police personnel from multiple districts reached the scene including the District Police, IRB (Indian Reserve Battalion), Crime Unit, CIA (Crime Investigation Agency) units. She explained that the members of the Crime Unit and CIA were in civil dress. Regarding the video of the firing by the man in the white shirt firing, she stated that he had received a copy of the footage, and transferred it to the SP of Nuh (old name Mewat) for a probe. She said she had sought responses from the Nuh SP regarding the identity of the individual, whether his weapon was legal, and the capacity in which he carried out the firing. The ADG added that she did not confirm to Zee News whether the man in the video was a policeman. In fact, when the outlet asked whether the man was a police officer, she had replied that personnel from the Crime and CIA units were present in civil dress at the spot.

Man in white shirt opening fire is Ashok Baba, a Bajrang Dal functionary

In an interview with India TV, Ashok Baba confessed that he was the man in the viral clip and also admitted to firing from the premises of the temple. He also called himself a gau rakshak (cow vigilante).

Ashok Baba has ties to Bajrang Dal Faridabad

We found a video posted on Ashok Baba’s Facebook profile dated June 22 of this year, in which he states that he is the department coordinator of Bajrang Dal Faridabad.

We found a letter from 2022 issued by Bajrang Dal Faridabad, mentioning Ashok Baba’s name, while his designation has been listed as Gau Raksha Pramukh (chief of cow protection). This confirms that Baba is associated with the Bajrang Dal.

To sum it up, police personnel were deployed in plain clothes to control the violent communal clashes in Nuh. However, while promoting a viral video featuring Ashok Baba of the Bajrang Dal, Zee News falsely claimed that he was also a policeman.

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

Donate Now

About the Author

Abhishek is a senior fact-checking journalist and researcher at Alt News. He has a keen interest in information verification and technology. He is always eager to learn new skills, explore new OSINT tools and techniques. Prior to joining Alt News, he worked in the field of content development and analysis with a major focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).