[Disclaimer: Video contains self-harm. Reader discretion is advised.]
A 20-second clip of a Kanwar procession is viral on social media. In the clip, a man jumps in front of a truck carrying the Kanwar devotees. Kanwar Yatra is a pilgrimage organised in the Hindu calendar month of Saavan during which Saffron-clad Shiva devotees embark on a journey from the Ganges with pitchers of holy water. They offer the water to Shivlings at various Shiva pilgrims across India. In Southern India, it is known as Kavadi Aattam. Mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik has explained the intersection of the two cultures on his blog.
In the video, three trucks are spotted passing by while playing loud music. The video ends abruptly with a man jumping in between the third truck and the truck runs over him. A few seconds prior to that, another man wearing a skullcap can be seen in the frame.
This video is widely shared on WhatsApp, with a long Hindi text. As per the text, Kavadis are being framed in this incident as the man “deliberately” jumped between the trucks. The text furthers that the man hailed from the Muslim community, and this has led to communal tensions in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoband city in the Saharanpur district. It also mentions that the police have registered a case against the Kavadis.
The text further added that Deoband is a communally sensitive place and posed the question of why did the Muslim man jump between the truck of Kavadis.
[Original Hindi text: आज सुबह “देवबन्द” जो कि (अतिसंवेदनशील जगह हैं) में “कावड़ियों” के “ट्रक” के नीचे एक “मुस्लिम” शख्स की मौत हो जाती हैं जिसको लेकर बवाल खड़ा हो गया कि “कावड़ियों” ने जानबूझ कर इस व्यक्ति को मारा हैं पुलिस ने सभी “कावड़ियों” के खिलाफ केस तुरत दर्ज कर कार्यवाही शुरू कर दी लेकिन भला हुआ एक बच्चे का जो एक जगह खड़ा होकर “कावड़ियों” की “झांकी” की विडीयो बना रहा था और ये घटना भी उस बच्चे के मोबाइल में कैद हो गई वीडियो में सामने आया कि मरने वाला “मुस्लिम” शख्स जानबूझ कर “कावड़ियों” के ट्रक के पिछले पीहिये के नीचे कूद गया और उसकी मोके पर ही मौत हो गई चूंकि “देवबन्द” अति संवेदनशील जगह हैं ऐसी घटना से जातिय दँगा भड़ने की पूरी पूरी सम्भावना रहती हैं लेकिन इस बच्चे की बनी वीडियो से मामला शांत हो गया लेकिन सोचने वाली बात ये हैं कि आखिर मरने वाले “मुस्लिम” शख्स ने सुसाइड करने के लिए “कावड़ियों” का ही ट्रक को क्यो चुना कही ये कोई सोची समझी साजिश तो नही थी]
Alt News received multiple requests on our WhatsApp helpline (+91 7600011160), to verify the authenticity of this claim.
Without posting the video, Madhu Purnima Kishwar shared the entire WhatsApp text in a tweet thread and tagged UP CM Yogi Adityanath asking if this was true. In the past, Alt News has documented several instances where Kishwar has shared misinformation. (Archived link)
Alt News performed a keyframe analysis by performing a reverse image search of the viral clip using a video verification tool called InVID. We found an instance of the viral video uploaded by a regional news channel on YouTube in 2017. Thus, the incident is at least five years old.
After the recent cycle of the video doing rounds on social media, the Saharanpur Police tweeted a press note and stated that the social media narratives around the death of the person were misleading. In addition, Alt News also spoke with a police officer at Deoband who confirmed the same.
▶️कतिपय सोशल मीडिया के माध्यम से यह असत्य खबर फैलायी जा रही है कि “थाना देवबंद में सुबह कावड़ियों के ट्रक के नीचे एक मुस्लिम ने आत्महत्या कर ली है”।
⏹️ सहारनपुर पुलिस इस असत्य एवं भ्रामक खबर का खंडन करती है।
.@UPPViralCheck @News18UP #UPPolice pic.twitter.com/4pyCg4CYQL
— Saharanpur Police (@saharanpurpol) July 20, 2022
Though the police did not identify the man or his religion in their press note, we performed a keyword search and came across various news reports about this incident from 2017.
As per Jagran, the man who jumped between the truck was 36-year-old Wahid of Lahaswara village. After receiving the news of the incident, the police immediately reached the spot and sent the body for a postmortem. Babloo Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police of Saharanpur told Scroll, “The accident took place around 8 am, and the video went viral around 1 pm. It can be a coincidence or a planned case as the man was a little disturbed, as his family claimed”.
Speaking to Scoop Whoop, Pankaj Kumar Tyagi, Station House Officer (SHO) of Deoband rejected any conspiracy behind the death. Tyagi also said that Wahid’s mother had given a statement to the police in writing that she doesn’t want to file an FIR in this case. “Probably there are some personal issues behind the attempt,” said SHO Tyagi.
To sum it up, an old video of a man dying suicide by jumping between the trucks carrying Kanwar Yatra devotees was viral with a communal claim.
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.
To make an instant donation, click on the “Donate Now” button above. For information regarding donation via Bank Transfer/Cheque/DD, click here.