A news bulletin by Shia Waves English, a Shiite news outlet, used unrelated visuals of idol immersion to falsely claim that Indians have stopped worshipping idols and are destroying them amidst the raging second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The bulletin claims that several Indian citizens have thrown idols they worshipped on the streets with the rising number of COVID-19 cases. It then pans to an old and unrelated video which shows an excavator collecting idols left on the streets after a festival. Moments later, another video shows Ganpati idols being immersed in a water body from a truck carrying them. The news anchor narrates in the background, "The Indians expressed their anger at the idols that they worshiped and sacrificed themselves for, but the idols did not protect them from the Coronavirus. They prayed to the idols because they believed that it could save them from the virus, but they finally discovered that they could not do anything and hence they destroyed it."
The video was tweeted by Canadian columnist Tarek Fatah as well. BOOM has fact checked Fatah earlier for peddling misinformation. Click here to view the archive of Fatah's tweet.
The video has been shared on Facebook with a caption in English which reads, "Indians throw thousands of idols on the street for not protecting them against the virus."
Shia Waves English website also published the article with the headline, "Indians throw thousands of idols on the street for not protecting them against the virus". The article is archived here.
BOOM also received the video via its WhatsApp tipline +917700906588 for verification.
BOOM was able to ascertain that both the visuals of idol immersion used in the bulletin are not related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The clip which shows idols being gathered on the roadside by an excavator was recorded on or before August, 2019. According to tweets featuring similar visuals, Dashama idols were kept beside the banks of the Sabarmati river instead of immersing them to avoid water pollution.
Vijay Nehra, the then Commissioner of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation tweeted stating the incident on August 11, 2019.
A Twitter user replied to Nehra with the same viral video that has now been used in the Shia Waves news bulletin.
While BOOM was unable to independently verify the viral clip, it has been on the internet since August 2019. It thus ascertains that the video was shot much before the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
BOOM ran a reverse image search with keyframes of the video showing Ganpati idols being immersed in a waterbody from a truck.
A Facebook user posted the video on September 24, 2015 with a caption in Telegu which reads, "It is located on the Krishna River Bridge in the Telangana State of NH 44, Mehboob Nagar District. Telangana police are immersing Ganpati."
AFP fact check earlier confirmed that the video was shot on the Beechupally bridge of National Highway 44 near Krishna river in Telangana. Telangana state police chief, Rema Rajeshwari confirmed to the AFP Fact Check team that the video was taken in Beechupally. Read the fact check here.
Further, BOOM checked Shia Waves English's YouTube channel, Facebook and Instagram pages, but was unable to find the viral news bulletin on the platform.
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