Mumbai, July 12: At the heart of the mob violence in Dhule, Maharashtra, that left nine dead and 10 injured within a month’s time are three videos, all of them doctored. A leading English daily reported on Thursday that the video clips showing two bike-borne men picking up a boy, women in burqas on a road and a boy telling reporters that he was kidnapped from Buldhana were responsible for fuelling part of the mob violence. Either the videos do not belong to locations given in WhatsApp forwards or they were edited to manipulate the content, said police investigation. Police are probing at least two more videos which were circulated across the state, said The Indian Express.
“The three videos misrepresent kidnapping in order to create panic,” said Nashik Rural Additional Superintendent of Police Harsh Poddar said. The most circulated video has two men on a bike approaching children playing by the roadside, lifting one of them and driving away. There are reportedly various versions of this, all claiming to be from different parts of the country. (Also read: Maharashtra CM For Stronger Measures by Social Media Platforms)
The original video is part of a campaign by a Karachi NGO in 2016 to raise awareness about missing children. The NGO, Roshni Helpline, had hired advertising agency Spectrum Y&R for the video. A spokesperson for the agency told The Indian Express confirmed the same. The agency said the video has been shared 6 million times on Facebook and received widespread coverage in the media.
“The clip used in the WhatsApp messages in India has been edited to remove the context… It shows CCTV footage of a child being snatched by two men on a motorbike. In the original video, the two men return to the spot and place the child back. One of the men holds up a sign that reads, ‘It takes only a moment to kidnap a child from the streets of Karachi’,” the spokesperson said.
Likewise, about the video showing a group of women walking down a road, changing into a burqah, and a child following them, Poddar said, “It wasn’t even a case of kidnapping, but the video was spread with the claim that the women are kidnappers and that the incident had taken place in Nandurbar, which is close to Malegaon. However, we found that the actual location of the video is Bengaluru.”
The third video that was widely circulated in the first week of July shows a man travelling with a child and before police intervene in Shirdi. The child is also seen telling journalists he was kidnapped by the man. The video edits the part where the boy later confessed to having willingly accompanied the man, a family friend, to Shirdi from Buldhana.