Following the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress' landslide victory against the Bharatiya Janata Party, after months of high-tension and gruelling campaigning and polling, there have been reports of post-poll violence across the state, allegedly carried out by party workers.
Several news reports have spoken of TMC workers attacking BJP workers in various parts of the state. But several users on social media are also reviving unrelated and old videos with claims that they represent the current spate of post-poll violence in the state.
Soon, hashtags like #BengalBurning, #BengalViolence and #PresidentRuleInBengal started trending on Twitter.
#BengalBurning & #BengalViolence
The hashtag #BengalBurning appeared on Twitter on May 2, at 4.48 PM, just around the time the Assembly Election results had nearly confirmed TMC's victory in the polls.
The first tweet was made by user Amitabh Chaudhary, who quickly changed his handle name to @SaveBJPCadres. The tweet he shared showed a viral video of a building being burned, with the claim that it was a BJP party office being torched by TMC workers.
Soon, more and more accounts started tweeting with the hashtag - by May 5, 7 PM, the hashtag had been tweeted out at least 45,000 times. A majority of these tweets (over 30,000) were posted on May 4 itself.
This hashtag was frequently accompanied by another viral hashtag #BengalViolence.The first hashtag appeared on May 2, at 5.39 PM, around the same time as #BengalBurning.
The hashtag was used by user Faizan Ahmed (@mojobyfaizan), who insinuated that the BJP is torching its own offices.
Soon the hashtag was picked up on social media by people claiming that BJP workers were being attacked by TMC supporters. By May 5, 7 PM, this hashtag was tweeted out more than 54,000 times.
As more and more posts started claiming instances of violence by TMC cadres and party workers, the hashtag #PresidentRuleInBengal started picking up along with the two above hashtags.
The hashtag appeared on May 2 at 1.07 PM, when TMC had taken a comfortable lead against the BJP in the assembly election polls. The tweet was made by user @india2049, who pushed the narrative that West Bengal was being overrun by Rohingya's and Bangladeshis.
The hashtag quickly picked up, and was tweeted out more than 24,000 times on May 3. As the hashtag continued to pick up, by May 5, 7 PM, it had been tweeted out nearly 45,000 times.
We also found evidence of coordinated suspicious activities trying to push the hashtag on the platform.
A user @haremukai spammed the hashtag over 150 times in response to other tweets carrying posts about alleged violence in Bengal, in a span of 3 hours. Many of the replies by this handle were later removed.
User @ke2011_cool also spammed the hashtag on several tweets with the text, "What dharna??? I miss gujrati @narendramodi & @AmitShah. Show some spine Folded hands. I miss their tiger attitude. Accept it you cant save your karyakartas in a state where there are no rules. You have to play the same game. #PresidentRuleInBengal."
Another user @Krishkruthi7 spammed the hashtag #PresidentRuleInBengal, along with #BengalBurning, over 240 times in less than 2 hours.
With additional inputs from Sujith A.
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