A video, purportedly showing a Maulvi, or Islamic cleric, trying to drag a seemingly unconscious woman into a room, is viral with the claim that he was attempting to assault the woman in the name of exorcism.
BOOM found these claims to be false; we found a longer version of the footage, which contained a disclaimer stating that the entire video has been scripted, and that everything shown is imaginary. Furthermore, we found that the old man playing the role of the 'maulvi' has acted in other similarly scripted videos.
Throughout the year, BOOM has fact-checked many scripted videos, that have gone viral as real. In many of these videos, crimes such as sexual assault and kidnapping have been shown, and these videos have gone viral with highly Islamophobic captions. Click here to view all the fact-checks we did on scripted videos, and here to view the ones that went viral with communal claims.
One of the viral footage, of 2:20 min in length, shows an elderly man, dressed as a maulvi, dragging an unconscious woman into a room, when he gets interrupted by the person shooting the video. The latter than goes on to interrogate the old man, asking him what he fed the woman to render her unconscious, and what he was trying to do with her. Yet another shorter version of this footage is also viral, which shows just the interrogation.
The video, with its disclaimer cropped out, has been shared on social media by many prominent right-leaning handles. These include Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Prashant Patel, right-leaning news channel Hindi Khabar's correspondent Anchal Yadav, and right-leaning influencer Arun Pudur, among others.
The footage was further shared by many users on Twitter, and has also been shared on Facebook with similar captions.
BOOM searched for a longer version of the video by running multiple keyword searches on Facebook, Google and Twitter. The keyword searches we used were "मौलवि झाड़-फूंक", "मौलाना नशीली", and "मौलवि नशीली".
This led us to a longer version of the video, of nearly 11:52 min in length, uploaded on Facebook. Upon watching the entire video, we noticed a disclaimer appear in the final few seconds of the video, saying, "Everything in this video is imaginary. Imaginary because reality is too bitter to be told or shown. Events shown in this are not real compared to what has actually been happening in coutries (sic) like ours."
This cued is to the fact that the footage going viral is part of a scripted video, and does not show a real-life situation.
We continued looking through the search results, and found yet another scripted video about a boy going insane after his girlfriend got married, and was being consoled by an old man. In this video, we noticed that the role of the old man was being played by the exact same person who played the role of the 'maulana' in the viral video.
The video was made by an account called Abc Prank, who also runs a YouTube channel with the same name. The channel is run by an individual named Chandan Kumar Rawal, who also calls himself Chandan Chaudhary.
We went through the videos on this channel, to find yet another video with the same old guy, who plays the role of an elderly man who marries a young woman to 'protect her' after her husband left her with a baby.
We closely compared close-up screenshots of the elderly man in the viral video, along with the two prank videos we found, and reached the conclusion that it is the same person.
BOOM reached out to Rawal to enquire whether the viral footage of the 'maulana' was also shot by him, and to also know the real name of the elderly man who plays the role of the 'maulana'. The article will be updated upon getting a response.
Additional reporting by Sujith A.