Mohammed Haris Nalapad took charge as the president of Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress Committee Monday after performing rituals from different religions at Congress Bhavan in Bengaluru. Soon after, social media users shared an image of a group of men seemingly offering an Islamic prayer, claiming to show the inauguration of the Karnataka Youth Congress office. The viral image also has portraits of Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi on the background wall.
BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla was among other Twitter users who shared the viral image.
The image was shared on Facebook also. One of the users posted the viral image with the caption “Karnataka: Congress Youth Wing Opens New Office in Bangalore .. Looks like a meeting of Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba”
Nalapad is the son of Congress MLA N A Harris. He has previously been in the media for the wrong reasons. In February 2018, Nalapad was arrested for assaulting a man in a Bengaluru pub, spent over three months in prison and was granted conditional bail in June the same year. In 2020, he was back in the news in connection to an accident case.
Newschecker skimmed through the comments associated with the viral image and found a comment by a user @SunilBadagi who shared a tweet by Mohammed Haris Nalapad. On January 31, 2022, Nalapad had posted four images, including the viral image, on Twitter with the caption, “Prayers and prayers were held today at the Karnataka Region Youth Congress office at the Congress House. @mlanaharis legislator, several Congress leaders, including Mohammed, were present,” in Kannada.
We scanned the official Twitter account of the Karnataka Youth Congress and found a tweet, dated January 31, 2022, which carried a part of the viral image. The caption of the tweet read, “The new President @nalapad of the Karnataka Region Youth Congress office at the Congress House today offered prayers. The legislator Shri @mlanaharis
and senior leader Shri N.A. Several Congress leaders, including Mohammed, were present.”
The same image was shared by the Karnataka Youth Congress on its Facebook account.
Notably, all the three posts carried images of Nalapad performing Hindu religious rituals along with Islamic prayers, challenging the communal spin given to the viral image. The tweets also clarified that the event took place at Congress House.
To investigate the claim further, Newschecker searched keywords ‘Karnataka Youth Congress’ and ‘Mohammad Haris Nalapad’ on Google and found a news report by The New Indian Express, dated February 1, 2022, titled ‘Mohammed Haris Nalapad takes charge as Karnataka Youth Congress chief.’
According to the report, “Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress Committee leader Mohammed Haris Nalapad on Monday occupied office as president of the youth wing by performing some rituals at the Congress Bhavan on Race Course Road.”
The report featured an image of Nalapad performing ‘Havan’- a Hindu religion ritual.
We also found a video uploaded on the official YouTube Channel of NewsFirst Kannada, dated January 31, 2022, with the title ‘Mohammed Haris Nalapad: Nalapad Made young Congress President’ in Kannada. The video shows Nalapad performing Havan.
A YouTube channel called ‘Na Haris News’ uploaded a video titled, ‘Attendeding Office Charge Taking Ceremony of Mohammed Haris Nalapad as Karnataka Youth Congress’ on January 31, 2022. In the 8-minute long video, Nalapad can be seen performing several religious ceremonies.
The ‘communal’ claim about inauguration of Youth Congress office in Karnataka is misleading. The viral image is from rituals relating to different religions performed by Mohammed Haris Nalapad while taking the charge as Karnataka Youth Congress President.