Posts falsely claim video of Indian farmers' union leader shows 'BJP official being beaten up'

·3 min read

A video has been shared tens of thousands of times in Bengali-language social media posts that claim it shows a mob attacking an Indian ruling party official in June 2022 after she made controversial remarks about the Prophet Mohammed, sparking protests in both India and neighbouring Bangladesh. However, the claim is false; the video has circulated in posts and news reports about a farmers' protest in north India's Rajasthan state. AFP identified the woman in the clip as a representative for a local farmers' group.

The video was posted here on Facebook on June 19, 2022, where it has been shared more than 80,000 times.

The Bengali-language caption reads: "Nupur Sharma, who made derogatory remarks about the Prophet, was beaten by a mob."

The clip appears to show a young woman dressed in yellow grabbing onto a fence while a group of uniformed officers try to drag her away.

The post circulated in Muslim-majority Bangladesh after Nupur Sharma, an official from Hindu-majority India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sparked an outcry among Muslim communities across South Asia with controversial remarks about the Prophet Mohammed in May 2022.

New Delhi's top court subsequently said Sharma, who was suspended by her party over her comments, should apologise for having "set the country on fire", AFP reported.

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken July 14, 2022.

The footage was shared alongside a similar claim here and here.

However, the claim is false -- the woman seen in the clip is not Nupur Sharma.

Keyword and reverse image searches found the same woman was identified as Bhumi Birmi in this Facebook post on June 16, 2022.

AFP found Birmi's Facebook profile, where she states she is the district president of the women's wing of a farmers' representative group called Bhartiya Kisan Union in Churu district, located in India's western Rajasthan state.

She posted a longer video which shows her scuffle with the police on Facebook here on June 16, 2022.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip in the false posts (left) and the video posted by Birmi (right):

Birmi also broadcast the farmers' protest live on Facebook here on June 15, 2022.

Indian media outlet ABP Live reported Birmi's involvement in an ongoing sit-in protest in Churu by farmers demanding crop insurance and complete loan waivers, as well as asking local authorities make crop yield reports public.

The Hindi-language headline reads: "Churu: Farmers' protest in Churu intensifies; three months on, protests continue over 20-points demand."

Similar scenes showing Birmi's scuffle with the police can also be found in a video posted by local media outlet Patrika on June 16, 2022.

The Hindi-language titled translates as: "Churu farmer: Confrontation between police and farmers in Taranagar."

Taranagar is a city and a municipality in the Churu district in Rajasthan state.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip in the false posts (left) and the video from Patrika (right), with corresponding features marked in red by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the clip in the false posts (left) and the video from Patrika (right), with corresponding features marked out by AFP

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