After weeks of raging controversy over the usage of loudspeakers for religious prayers, a recent video is doing the rounds of social media alleging “appeasement” of Muslims against the Shiv Sena led Maharashtra governmnet. Newschecker found the claims being made linking the viral video to Maha CM to be untrue.
The video shows a heavily decorated bus, seemingly at its launch or preparing for its maiden trip/ journey. The red coloured bus can be seen decked with lights and floral decorations and carries a big green flag complete with a crescent moon and star, surrounded by people, leaving what appears to be a bus depot.
Calling the CM “Uddhavudin” Thackrey, the comments accompanying the video refer to the late Bal Thackeray as ‘Sher-e- Maratha’ ( maratha’s pride) and alleges that his son, the current CM is indulging in appeasing Muslims by launching a new bus “carrying a Pakistani flag” in Osmanabad. The posts further stated that the “sizeable” Dalit population in the area (Vidarbha) do not object to this kind of “blatant appeasement” by the ruling MVA.
The video is doing rounds of Facebook and Twitter targeting the MVA government for their “appeasement” policy.
Links to such posts can be found here, here, here, here and here.
Newschecker also received the claim on our WhatsApp tipline (+91-9999499044) requesting to be fact checked.
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On carefully analysing the video, we see that the flag seen on the bus is not a Pakistani flag as claimed, but is the Islamic religious flag.
Pakistan’s national flag is white and green, while the Islamic religious flag is plain green in colour.
On analysing the video further, we spotted ‘Osmanabad’ written on the bus. We also spotted the words ‘Gazi Express’ written at the top of the windshield.
Taking a clue, we conducted Google reverse image search by using the keyframes of the video along with the keywords ‘Gazi Express’, ‘Osmanabad’ in English and Marathi, and found a Facebook post by a user ‘MSRTC – connecting places and people’- “Unofficial fan page of MSRTC…..like for getting updates, photos, quotes n many more things”-, dated March 26, 2019, which carried an image of a similar image of the bus.
On comparing the two, we found several similarities between the image of the bus from the 2019 post and that of the vehicle seen in the viral video. Notably, Uddhav Thackeray was sworn-in as the CM of Maharashtra only in November 2019.
The title of the Facebook post in Marathi read, “Gazi Express an ST’s grand Urus tradition.” As per the post, it is an yearly tradition for the staff at Osmanabad ST depot to visit a dargah on the occasion of Urs. A bus ‘Gazi Express’ is decorated for the same and takes a tour around the city before reaching the dargah.
The post ends with, “I pray to God that this tradition of our ST continues uninterrupted forever.”
On further reverse image searches, we found that the viral video was uploaded on Instagram page ‘osmanabad_dargah_sharif’ on July 8, 2021 with the caption, “MSRTC SANDAL, OSMANABAD.” As per the description of the page, it is an official page of Dargah Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin Gazi R.A.
What is Urs?
The death anniversary of a Sufi Saint is celebrated as his Urs. It is usually held at his shrine (dargah). Urs translates to marriage ceremony or marriage anniversary, indicating the saint’s union with the God. Devotees over ‘chadar’ to the shrine. Urs rituals are generally performed by the custodians of the shrine, and usually include the singing of religious music such as qawwali.
Newschecker contacted Kazi Khalil Shamshuddin, Traffic Controller at Osmanabad ST depot who told us, “there is a dargah in Osmanabad called Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin Gazi and the workers at Osmanabad ST depot send ‘sandal’ to the dargah on the occasion of Urs. And at that time we take the vehicle on CC (casual contract). For the past 59 years, the staff at ST depot have been celebrating it. Staff contributes to the same.” He added that the placard of Gazi Express is added on the bus during the time of procession and later removed. Owing to Covid-19 lockdown, the procession did not take place for the past three years, Khalil told us.
He added that the divisional controller acts as the President of the committee while the collector of Osmanabad division is the Chief Guest for the programme.
Newschecker also contacted Osmanabad Bus Depot Manager Pandurang Patil who informed that bus is not new and that the corporation provides bus service for various occasions on CC (Casual Contract) for a day and “the Urs committee (of ST depot) takes the bus on casual contract on the occasion of Urs to visit a nearby ‘Dargah’ of Shamshuddin Gazi.” This tradition has been undertaken for the past several years, he added, and that for the past three years Urs did not take place due to covid and related restrictions.
Newschecker was also provided with photographic evidence of the procession from yesteryears, proving that the function is not a new ‘appeasement’ strategy by the Uddhav Thackeray government. Khalil shared the following pictures with us.
Kahlil also shared with us an invite of the event from 2014 as can be seen below.
The invite listed out the names of several members of the committee. Notably, as can be seen from the invite, the Hindu names outnumbered the Muslims in the 2014 committee, highlighting that the event was readily participated by members of both faiths.
We also reached out to a local journalist Chandrasen Deshmukh who told us that the practice of decorating the bus on the occasion of Urs has been going on for the past several years. He further added that people belonging to Hindu and Muslim communities, both, have equal faith and devotion for the Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin Gazi dargah.
Newschecker also attempted to contact the dargah for their comments. Their response is awaited.
An old video of a bus decorated with an Islamic flag for an annual procession to the Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin Gazi dargah, Osmanabad on the occasion of Urs is being shared with the false claim to show a ‘a new bus’ for Muslim ‘appeasement’ by the MVA government in Maharashtra.
Result: False Context/False
Facebook Post By user ‘MsrtcConnectingPlacesAndPeople’, dated March 26, 2019
Instagram Post By user ‘osmanabad_dargah_sharif’, dated July 8, 2021
Telephonic conversation with Osmanabad Depot Manager Pandurang Patil on May 20, 2022
Telephonic conversation with Osmanabad ST Depot Traffic Controller Kazi Khalil Shamshuddin on May 20, 2022
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