A disturbing video showing a mob enter a Durga Puja pandal premise in Bangladesh's Noakhali and vandalise it is viral on social media with false claims that it shows an attack on festivities in West Bengal.
BOOM found that the pandal was vandalised by rioters in Chowmuhani area under Naokhali district of Bangladesh.
The video is viral in the backdrop of communal violence that broke out in several parts of Bangladesh during the Durga Puja festivities. The Guardian reported that the violence began after allegations of the desecration of the Islamic Quran led to dozens of Hindu temples being attacked and police opening fire on a crowd. At least seven people died in this communal violence. On Friday and Saturday, further communal violence erupted in Noakhali district and Dhaka.
The viral video shows an aerial view of a mob barging into an open ground and destroying a puja pandal. Voices of distressed women and children speaking in Bangla can be heard in the background. A woman recording the video can be heard alerting people and appealing them to stay at home and be safe.
The video has been shared on Facebook with a caption in Hindi which reads, "Yesterday, peacemakers created a ruckus in Durga Puja pandals in Bengal. This community is getting preferences by Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. The Hindus will not forgive Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee."
(Original text in Hindi: "कल बंगाल में दुर्गा पूजा के पंडाल को तहस नहस करते शांति दूत। इन सूगरों की औलादों को समाजबादी पार्टी उत्तरप्रदेश में औऱ ममता बनर्जी बंगाल में इतना बढ़ावा दे दिए है ही ये आलम है। मुलायम सिंह यादव और ममता बनर्जी को हिन्दू कभी भी माफ नहीं करेगा।")
The video is viral on WhatsApp with a similar narrative in English.
The video was captioned in Bangla as, "Horrific condition in Noakhali, Trishul, Mangola, Bijaya Pandel, Kotibari Temple are torched by mob. Hindu homes are being attacked. One after one temple are being torched."
(Original post in Bangla: নোয়াখালীতে ভয়াবহ অবস্থা, ত্রিশূল, মঙ্গলা, নবদুর্গা, বিজয়া প্যান্ডালে, কোটিবাড়ি মন্দির সম্পূর্ণ আগুনে দেওয়া হয়েছে। হিন্দুদের বাড়ি বাড়ি ঢুকে আক্রমন করা হচ্ছে। ভাঙ্ঘচুর অগ্নিসংযোগ করা হয়।একেরপর এক মন্দির জ্বালিয়ে দেওয়া হচ্ছে।)
We then messaged the organisers of Bijoya Durga Mandir who confirmed to BOOM that the video is from their area. They further told BOOM that the incident happened at the Trishul Puja Pandal, College Road, adjacent to the Loknath Temple, Chowmuhani.
Vandalisation of Trishul Puja Pandal, Chowmuhani
BOOM compared the screengrab of the puja pandal visible in the viral video and the images shared by devotees on their Facebook page.
Additionally we spoke to Anukul Govind Das, a brahmachari of Sri Sri RadhaKrishna Gour-Nityananda Mandir, located close to the pandal, who confirmed to BOOM Bangladesh that the incident happened near their area. Das told BOOM Bangladesh, "The incident happened at a temporary pandal near Loknath Temple, Chowmuhani during a recent violence." We were able to confirm that Sri Sri RadhaKrishna Gour-Nityananda Mandir is located at a distance of 1.5 km from the pandal that was vandalised by a mob.
Further, below is a comparison of frames of the Loknath Temple, Chowmuhani as seen in the viral video and from an online blog.
Additional Reporting: Sujith A and Minhaj Aman, BOOM Bangladesh.
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