A video of a group of men attempting to demolish a dargah in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh is being shared with a false and communal claim that a Hindu temple was demolished by Muslims.
BOOM found that the religious structure is not a temple and the incident was a dispute between two Muslim groups in the area and did not involve any Communal angle.
Lalapet police station circle inspector Prabhakar, speaking to BOOM dismissed the claim that the structure was a temple, and further explained that it was a dispute within the Muslim community about whether a mosque should be built or the structure / dargah should remain as it is. He also denied any communal angle to the incident. The police told BOOM while there is no tomb inside, the locals revered the place as a dargah.
In the 25 seconds video, a group of men in skull caps and hammers in their hands are seen trying to break the wall of a gate while another group present opposes their actions. The gate has two religious symbols on it - one of snakes and the other of the crescent moon and star.
The video was shared by Twitter user Anshul Pandey who had also uploaded it on his Instagram handle with three other videos from the site with the caption, "40 years old Naga temple attached by peaceful people at Guntur constituency of andhra pradesh 17th ward."
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Tarek Fatah had quote-tweeted Pandey's now deleted tweet, with the caption, "Smashing a 40-year-old Hindu Temple in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh." BOOM has previously fact-checked Fatah for tweeting misinformation.
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The same video is also being shared widely on Facebook with the false claim.
BOOM found that the viral video is from Guntur, Andra Pradesh showing a dispute between two groups from the Muslim community on whether a mosque should be built or the dargah should remain as it is.
We ran a selected keyword search with words like 'guntur demolished' in both English and Telugu, taking a hint that the video is from Guntur and the search results showed news reports on the incident.
The search results also showed a tweet by BJP National Secretary in-charge of Andaman & Nicobar Y. Satya Kumar, who had tweeted stating that a Dargah had been demolished in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
The New Indian Express reported on October 17, 2022, that some unidentified persons attempted to demolish Bhaji Bhasha Nishani Dargah in LR Nagar in Guntur on October 12, 2022, using hammers when the locals intervened and stopped them and according to sources, people belonging to all communities have been offering prayers at the dargah for the past 40 years.
It further reported that when the landowner died a few years ago, his daughter had urged the locals to continue offering prayers and as the dargah was in a dilapidated state, the locals also collected money to begin repair work. However, on Wednesday, a group of people attempted to demolish the walls of the dargah, claiming that they will construct a new wall. Tensions sparked when locals tried to stop them.
The New Indian Express quoted Lalapet police station circle inspector Prabhakar saying, "We have informed about the issue to revenue officials to check the land particulars and the rightful owner of the land. Until the issue is resolved, the dargah will be closed."
"It is not a temple, it is a dargah:" Inspector Prabhakar, Guntur Police
BOOM then contacted Inspector Prabhakar who dismissed the claim that it is a temple stating that it is a dargah constructed by a Muslim man and the current dispute was between two groups from the Muslim community on whether a mosque should be built or the dargah should remain as it is.
"That is not a Hindu temple, it is a Dargah built by the Muslim community - Nishani Dargah. It was established by Ratnam alias Rahman who live for 40 years in the area and he died in 2020, that time his daughter gave the site to construct a Masjid, however the local people who conduct prayers daily opposed the decision. This was the reason the people in the video tried to demolish the dargah. Initially, Rahman was a Christian, and he later converted to a Muslim, his late wife's name was Naga Ratnam, thats why he put Nag (snakes) statue and he also put moon and star at the dargah, However, those sharing fake news are only pointing to the nag statue," said Prabhakar
"The scene in the video is the compound wall of the dargah which the men are hitting with their hammers. It is not exactly a dargah also, as there is no tomb and there are some stones present there but no body. The main dispute between the groups was that some Muslim people wanted it to remain a dargah where as some wanted a mosque. Now the dargah is closed off, a picket has been placed and orders have been issued to not enter the site," added Prabhakar
"The land dispute is ongoing on who owns the land, and who constructed the dargah, the daughter has appealed that she owns the place and is the legal heir. The compound wall has been destroyed and part of the tomb in the incident. There is no complaint has been filed regarding the incident in the video. Any work has been stopped at the site and a Waqf board inspector also went to the site and recorded the statements of both groups," further added Prabhakar.
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