An edited video, featuring two unrelated clips, is circulating with false claims that a priest advocating for a Hindu nation, was caught in a compromising situation with two women.
BOOM found that the viral video shows two unrelated persons - the person seen in the first part of the video was identified as a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Pallegama Sumana Thera who was stripped naked along with two women and beaten by a mob. In the later part of the video, a Hindu seer, Swami Anand Swaroop Maharaj speaks about India being identified as a Hindu nation.
The video is being shared with a Hindi caption that translates to, "Saint practicing to make a Hindu nation."
(Original Text in Hindi: हिन्दू राष्ट्र बनाने का अभ्यास करते हुए सन्त जी।)
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BOOM performed a reverse image search on one of the keyframes from the viral video and found a news report published by Hindustan Times Tamil carrying screengrabs from the video on July 9, 2023.
The news report identified the monk as a Sri Lankan Buddhist named Pallegama Sumana Thera. Thera was attacked along with two women in Nawagamuwa, Sri Lanka.
According to reports, a group of people had stromed a temple in Navagamuwa after two women who entered the temple premises in the evening took a while to come out. Visuals showing a mob storming into a room, attacking two women and the Buddhist monk went viral in Sri Lanka earlier this month thereafter.
Daily News on July 10, 2023, reported about the update on the incident saying, "Nawagamuwa Police on Saturday arrested eight individuals who allegedly stripped naked and assaulted two women and a Buddhist monk in Nawagamuwa. The suspects had been arrested after the Chief Incumbent of the Sri Sumanarama temple in Ihala Bomiriya Ven.Pallegama Sumana Thera lodged a complaint with the Nawagamuwa Police." Sinhala-language daily Divaina published an article on July 13, 2023, carrying a screengrab from the viral video and mentioned that the eight suspects were produced before a court in Sri Lanka for the attack.
Additionally, BOOM was also able to identify the person speaking about India as a Hindu nation.
A keyword search related to "Hindu Swami Secular India" showed us an image of Swami Anand Swaroop Maharaj, who can also be seen in the video. Swami Anand's image was published on an article by a website named Sanatan Prabhat on July 1, 2021.
The website quoted Swami Anand Swaroop as saying, “India has always been and will remain a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, but the so-called secularists conspired and got the word ‘Secular’ inserted in the Preamble of the Constitution”.
We then performed a reverse image search on one of the frames from the viral video and found a longer version of the video uploaded on Facebook on June 28, 2023.
We noticed that a logo mentioning Jan Doot News is present in the video from 1 minute 46 seconds onwards. Taking a cue, we noticed that the same video was uploaded by a Facebook page named Jan Doot News on June 20, 2023.
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(Additional Reporting: Sujith A)
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