Bangladesh transport video misleadingly shared as 'footage of Sri Lanka protesters'

·2 min read

As protesters stormed the official residence of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa calling for his resignation in early July, a video of an overcrowded train was viewed tens of thousands of times on TikTok and Facebook alongside a misleading claim that it shows demonstrators travelling to the capital Colombo. In fact, the video was filmed in Bangladesh. It has previously circulated in posts about Eid travellers, predating the storming of Rajapaksa's residence by at least two months.

The video was shared on TikTok on July 9, the same day Rajapaksa escaped his Colombo residence just before it was overrun by tens of thousands of protesters calling for his resignation.

The post's Sinhala-language caption translates to English as: "Nande is going to have the scare of his life today #trending #srilanka #gohomegota2022".

"Nande" is a shortened form of Rajapaksa's first name Nandasena.

Rajapaksa submitted his resignation shortly after reaching Singapore on July 14, the parliamentary speaker's office said, days after he fled protests triggered by his country's worst-ever economic crisis.

Screenshot of the TikTok post captured on June 10, 2022


The same video was also viewed more than 57,000 times alongside a similar claim on Facebook here, here, and here.

Comments on the posts indicated some social media users believed the clip was filmed in Sri Lanka.

One wrote: "More strength to you comrades! Thank you for joining fellow Sri Lankans in ousting Rajapaksa thieves."

Another said: "This is going to be a historic July 9! Let's go boys and girls!"

However, a reverse image search on Google of the clip's keyframes found the video had been shared in a misleading context.

Bangladesh train

The video corresponds to the 31-second mark of this YouTube clip published on May 1 on a Bangladesh-based channel called BD Train Express.

The video's Bengali-language description translates as: "This was not seen in two years [during the pandemic] as there was a ban on public transport on such trains.

"It is understood that Eid has come just by seeing the people return home this way."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in one of the misleading posts (left) and the YouTube clip (right):

Screenshot comparison between the misleading posts' keyframes (L) and the Youtube clip (R)

The YouTube video's caption says the clip was filmed at "Balashpur Overpass, Mymensingh".

The location shown in the clip corresponds with this Google Street View imagery of a railway in Mymensingh, a city located north of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the YouTube video (left) and its Google street imagery (right) with corresponding features highlighted:

Screenshots of the YouTube video were also featured in this article on May 13 by the MailOnline, the website for British tabloid The Daily Mail.

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