Videos of people sabotaging railway tracks and pelting stones shared as evidence of terror conspiracy against India, post the June 2 Odisha train collision.
Old videos of Agnipath, CAA protests shared out of context. The third video, from 2022, was found to have no communal angle.
Three videos, purportedly showing people pelting stones at trains and sabotaging railway tracks, have been doing the rounds on social media, following the horrific three-train collision in Odisha on June 2, which killed at least 288. The communally charged claims around the videos were pushing the narrative of a looming terror threat, targeting the country’s infrastructure, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
Misinformation around the Odisha train crash
The devastating train accident at Balasore in Odisha on June 2, killing at least 288 people and injuring nearly 1,200, has triggered a deluge of misinformation on social media. The Odisha police has threatened severe legal action against those who are trying to give a “communal colour” to the collision, mainly by insinuating that the accident was a premeditated attack carried out by Muslims.
Newschecker has debunked multiple communal claims around the accident, including a cropped image of an ISKCON temple near the accident that was falsely identified as a mosque. Another viral post claiming that “Station Master Sharif“ is on the run since the accident was found to be false, where we learnt that there was no staff or station master named Sharif posted at the Bahanaga Bazar railway station. Also, an old video of railway workers “interrogating” a boy for placing stones on a railway track was shared out of context to claim a “big time conspiracy” was unearthed ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The 01:47-second video purportedly shows a large crowd of people, most of whom are wearing skull caps, storming a railway track and pelting stones at a passenger train. “These dangerous blood thirsty bugs will finish the nation unless pest control is not done at the earliest across the nation by the govt. watch how offspring of these generations of the original invaders are pelting stones at running trains, train engines, gathering in hundreds,” read a Whatsapp forward sharing the video.
Newschecker ran a reverse image search of keyframes of the video, which led us to this Facebook post, dated December 13, 2019, sharing the viral video. According to the post, the video was of an anti-CAB protest, shot from inside the loco pilot’s cabin at Uluberia, Howrah, West Bengal
A relevant keyword search led us to multiple news reports, seen here and here, about the incident. According to a Business Standard report, dated December 13, 2019, “Due to public agitation following the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, train services in the Howrah-Kharagpur section were disrupted on Friday. According to a press release, nearly 200 to 250 people obstructed the railway line at Uluberia in protest against the contentious Act.”
“Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act hit train services on Friday as agitators set up blockade on tracks at Uluberia and ransacked the station, railway officials said. At around 3.20pm, a group of people pelted stones at trains and set up a blockade at Uluberia station, the spokesperson for South Eastern Railway said,” read a Telegraph report, dated December 13, 2019.
Result: Missing Context
The 15-second video purportedly shows a group of youths trying to damage a railway track. Users shared the video, alleging that the enemies of PM Narendra Modi are at work by sabotaging train tracks ahead of the 2024 general elections.
A reverse image search of keyframes of the video led us to this tweet, dated June 19, 2022, stating that railway tracks were being vandalised in Bharatpur on the Jaipur-Agra route.
Taking a cue from this, a relevant keyword search led us to this Dainik Bhaskar June 2022 report about the protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for army recruitment. The report stated protesters vandalised the railway tracks and pelted stones at the police near the Bharatpur railway station in Rajasthan, causing trains to be held up for at least three hours. Article confirming the vandalism at Bharatpur can be seen here and here.
Result: Missing Context
Newschecker ran a keyword search for “cylinder train tracks”, which led us to this tweet by the North Eastern Railways’ Railway Protection Force in response to a user who shared the video. We learnt that the video is of an incident on July 5, 2022, in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, and that a case was registered against one Gangaram under relevant sections of the Railway Act.
A further search led us to this tweet by Chandrapal Singh, RPF inspector, Kathgodam, dated June 7, 2023, who said the case is pending in court. We reached out to Singh, who said there was no communal angle to the incident. “Gangaram was taking the empty cylinder across the tracks for refilling, but upon seeing the oncoming train, he left the cylinder on the tracks. The trial is still going on and Gangaram was in jail for two months,” said Singh.
Result: Missing Context
Old videos of protests against CAA, Agnipath and another clip of a man leaving an empty cylinder on the railway tracks are being shared out of context and with a communal spin, following the Odisha train collision.
(with inputs from Shaminder Singh)
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