A video from Iran is being shared online with a false claim that a man in the state of Haryana set fire to a petrol pump angered by rising fuel prices. BOOM found that the video is from Rafsanjan city in Kerman province of Iran where a man set ablaze a gas station allegedly over a dispute with the gas station's workers.
The video is being shared with several captions in Hindi all claiming the footage is from Haryana, India. The 1 minute 58 seconds video shows a man, his face covered by a scarf enter a petrol pump on a two-wheeler, stop in front of a fuel bunk, activate the self filling option, take the nozzle and douse the dispenser. When a petrol pump employee approaches him, the man sprays the petrol on him in a bid to make him stay away then douses the area around the dispenser with more petrol, lights a match to it and then flees the scene. The video further shows two petrol pump employees quickly get the fire under control using a fire extinguisher.
The video is being widely shared on Facebook with a caption in Hindi that translates to, "Tired of rising fuel prices, he set ablaze a petrol pump and ran away" (Original text in Hindi - पेट्रोल पंप फूंक फरार बढ़ती कीमतों से था परेशान!! #petrolpumpburn #fire #haryana).
Some of the viral videos had been flipped too.
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The video is also being shared on YouTube with a false claim that the incident is from Chandigarh where a woman set fire to a petrol pump.
We first looked for news reports about a petrol pump set on fire over increasing fuel prices, but did not find any such reported incident. A close analysis of the video, showed several hints that the video was not likely from India.
We first ran a reverse image search one a key frame from the video and found results for thumbnails from the video on some Iranian video sharing sites including Aparat, an Iranian site like YouTube. But none of the links led to the actual full video and searches on the sites did not yield any results.
We also found the video uploaded with Persian caption on Facebook.
We then took a close look at the video and looked for visual clues and found three different ones, that pointed to the fact that the video was from Iran and not India.
NUMBER PLATE ON THE TWO WHEELER
Using a magnifier tool to look at the number plate on the two wheeler used by the accused showed that the format does not follow the one seen on Indian vehicles and that they are in the Persian language.
Given that Iranian video sharing sites had published the video, we searched for the format of motorcyle number plates in Iran and compared them with the seen in the viral video and found several similarities like the the Iran flag colours on the top right of the vehicle.
HOARDING WITH PERSIAN TEXT
Additionally, we spotted a hoarding with lettering not resembling Indian alphabets.
We reached out to FactNameh, an Iranian fact checking website who informed us that the hoarding visible is of a carpet cleaning company called Setareh Kavir. On its Instagram page, Setareh Kavir says it is based in Rafsanjan city in Iran.
LOGO ON THE DISPENSER IN THE PETROL PUMP
We then focused on the logo visible on the petrol dispenser seen in the viral and a Google search showed that it did not resemble any used by fuel companies in India.
Using the above clue that the hoarding visible was of a company based in Rafsanjan, we looked for petrol pumps in the region. A Google maps search for petrol pumps in Rafsanjan showed one named Murshid gas station with the same logo as seen on a dispenser in in the viral video
We then ran a search in Persian using Rafsanjan + Petrol Pump + Fire as keywords and found a news story in Young Journalists Club, a Persian news agency about the same viral video. According to the translated news story, published on June 16, 2021, the man set fire to the petrol pump over personal dispute with one of the agents working there. The report further quoted, a police officer, Colonel Aramoun, head of the Rafsanjan police command and said, "On the morning of June 10, a person on a motorcycle in the city of Rafsanjan set fire to a gas station and fled. After the police investigation, the cause of this incident was a personal dispute with the agents of the gas station." The report further added that the police had confiscated the bike of the accused who was absconding.
(Additional reporting by Sujith A )