The video of a group of Kanwariyas toppling a car in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, is being shared with the claim that the crowd attacked a Muslim couple sitting inside. BOOM found that the claims were misleading, and the driver was a man named Pratap Singh. The woman sitting beside him in a burqa was a known acquaintance.
The video shows some Kanwariyas (devotees of Lord Shiva), dressed in orange clothes and arguing with a man sitting in a blue car. The woman leaves the car and shortly after, the crowd topples the car.
This video is being shared with a communal spin that a Muslim couple was travelling in the car. A caption on Twitter reads, "How can those who believe in Shiva create such hue and cry? The car collided with the Kavadis while backing up near Mangalore Mandi in Haridwar, after which the Kavadis overturned the car. The driver of the car was a Muslim, his family was also in the car and what was the police present there doing when the car overturned? Some people say that one cannot touch anything while carrying Kavadiya, then all the people who pushed the car in a ruckus must have become impure and the car did not hit all of them."
(Original text in Hindi: शिव को मानने वाले ऐसी हुड़दंगई कैसे कर सकते है? हरिद्वार के मंगलोर मंडी के पास कार बैक करते हुए कावड़ियों से टकरा गई इसके बाद कावड़ियों ने कार को मिल पलट दी. कार चलाने वाला मुस्लिम था, कार में उसकी फैमिली भी थी और कार पलटते वक़्त वहां मौजूद पुलिस क्या कर रही थी कुछ लोगों का कहना है कि कावड़िया ले जाते वक़्त किसी चीज़ को छू नही सकते है, तब तो जितने लोगों ने बवाल काटा कार को धकेला वो भी अशुद्ध हो गए होंगे और कार उन सब से तो नही टकराई थी.)
The post is also circulating on Facebook.
Click here to view the post.
BOOM found that there was no communal angle to the incident, and that the driver was a Hindu named Pratap Singh. We also found that the woman in the passenger seat was not his wife, but a known acquaintance.
We searched Haridwar Police's Facebook page and found a post from July 11, 2023. The post clarified that the incident was from Manglaur and that there was no communal angle to the incident. It also mentioned that an investigation was underway.
Taking a cue from this, we looked for news reports about the incident and found an article by Hindustan Times published on July 11 that carried visuals from the viral video.
The story quoted the Senior Superintendent of Police Ajai Singh who rubbished the claims around any communal angle. “The incident has no connection to any community. A case has been registered on the complaint of the owner of the damaged car who has been identified as local resident Pratap Singh. The miscreants who indulged in violence are being identified," he said.
The report also mentioned that the driver was a Hindu and the woman in the burqa sitting beside him was known to him.
We found another report published by Jagran on July 10. The report detailed the incident in Manglaur but did not mention anything about the driver's religion. Additionally, it informed that the police, along with the help of a media representative, helped pacify the crowd.
Through our sources in Manglaur, we were able to find out that a local reporter, Shamim Ahmed, had witnessed the incident when it took place.
We then contacted Ahmed who told us, "The incident took place at Gur Mandi in Manglaur, Haridwar on Monday at 4 pm. During the Kanwar Yatra, passengers coming or going to Haridwar stop at the canteen in Gur Mandi to take rest. On Monday evening, many Kanwar passengers were also present at the canteen, when Pratap Singh from Tikola village, who was also a frequent visitor to Mandi, was trying to take his car out from near the canteen."
He added, "During this time, a Muslim woman of his acquaintance was traveling with him in the car. While taking out the car, it accidentally collided with a Kanwar. They thrashed and later vandalised the car. The locals present at the incident tried to convince the Kanwar Yatris to calm down, but they did not agree. They also tried to burn the car, but the policeman present there somehow managed to control it. Later, the police arrested two people for inciting the crowd".
We even tracked down the license plate of the car seen in the video and found that it was registered to Pratap Singh.
We searched for Pratap Singh's number on Truecaller, an app used to identify phone numbers, and found that even in his profile picture, he was wearing the black skull cap seen in the viral video.
We contacted the local police in Manglaur and spoke to Mahesh Joshi, the Kotwali in-charge who said, "The man and woman in the car are not a couple. The name of the driver is Pratap Singh and the burqa-clad woman sitting with him is known to him."
We were able to contact Pratap Singh through Shamim Ahmed who refuted any claims about being the woman's husband. He said that the two knew each other because they worked for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Addressing the skull cap he is seen wearing in the video, he clarified that the cap is part of the dress code of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).