A video showing a group of men vandalise a minaret of a mosque is from Delhi's Ashok Nagar and happened on February 25, 2020, BOOM has been able to independently verify by visiting the scene.
BOOM visited the area of Badi Masjid, located in West Jyoti Nagar of Shahdara (East Delhi) on Wednesday, a day after the mosque was vandalised and observed that the saffron flag that was put atop the minaret by the rioters was still present.
Journalist Rana Ayyub tweeted, deleted and then tweeted again the video, which appears to be taken from a terrace of a nearby building. The video shows men climbing a minaret of a mosque, as two reach the top with saffron and tricolour flags.
Re-posting this video after verifying its authenticity. It is from Delhi. Men marching on top of a mosque, vandalising it and placing a saffron flag over it. pic.twitter.com/bScgJMxKc3— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) February 25, 2020
In another footage from the same incident, rioters can be seen destroying the crescent moon structure of the minaret.
'Video of mosque vandalisation is fake'
Moments after Ayyub's tweet, multiple netizens falsely claimed that the video is fake and not related to the riots in Delhi which were triggered by clashes between the pro- and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests since February 24.
Tweet delete by Rana Ayyub 🤔 Seems another stunt of fake news factory !— Tanmay Shankar (@Shanktan) February 25, 2020
Luckily the video still open and got played... pic.twitter.com/g0fsLilu4Y
Rana Ayyub deletes her tweet after people expose her fake video.— 🇮🇳 Badri#ModiSarkar2 (@badri4BJP) February 25, 2020
But police shouldn't spare her.@MumbaiPolice @DelhiPolice please ensure the arrest of the big hatemonger Rana Ayyub.
She is a big danger to peace in the country.@HMOIndia @AmitShah #DelhiCAAClashes #DelhiRiots https://t.co/ZXHGljKZY7
Will @DelhiPolice please arrest this worst hatemonger - communal bigot, masquerading as a journalist?— Sadhavi Khosla🇮🇳 (@sadhavi) February 25, 2020
Dear @nytimes — your celebrated opinion writer is a hatemonger of a worst order and inciting violence in India. She writes garbage on INDIA. @Twitter @jack Please take action. pic.twitter.com/bP1ERAWkIF
Screenshots of Ayyub's tweet were shared on Facebook with posts claiming that the footage was misleading.
Here is an archive of Ayyub's first tweet. Ayyub reposted the same video, after confirming the location.
Times Now also ran a show based on false claims that the mosque vandalisation video was fake.
EXPOSED | Watch: On @thenewshour AGENDA Padmaja Joshi confronts the activist @sairashahhalim who is one among those who shared the fake video of 'mosque vandalisation'.— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) February 25, 2020
Delhi Police has declared that no such incident took place. | #DelhiFightHate pic.twitter.com/oS5K5uSKEv
Video not from Bihar's Samastipur
Multiple netizens erroneously identified that the video is from Bihar's Samastipur, where a mosque was vandalised in a communal incident in 2018.
Don't brainwash people with 2 year old video you are spreading nothing but haterd, see the date of article which is march 28, 2018https://t.co/3WAOasDwFx— Shivam Awasthi (@iamShivamA) February 25, 2020
However, BOOM was able to ascertain that the video is recent and not from Bihar. Below is a comparison of the structures of the mosques and rioters vandalising them, which clearly show that they are not from the same incident.
BOOM visited the Ashok Nagar mosque on Wednesday and observed the aftermath of the vandalism carried out by rioters on February 25. In fact the same flag, with a picture of Lord Hanuman and Jai Shri Ram written on it, that was forcefully put on the minaret by two rioters, was still observed to be there, a day after the violence. The tricolour, which was seen being carried by one of the rioters, can be seen on images taken by BOOM, the next day of clashes.
Below is the comparison of the screenshots from the viral video and photos taken by BOOM a day later.
Below are shots of the minaret and the area surrounding the mosque taken by BOOM, which was vandalised. The interiors of the mosque were set on fire and shops adjacent to it was looted as well.
Furthermore, The Wire had reported about the vandalism of the mosque on Tuesday. Photos from the same location were used in The Wire's article headlined, "Delhi Riots: Mosque Set on Fire in Ashok Nagar, Hanuman Flag Placed on Minaret" which identified the place as Ashok Nagar. (The article had erroneously identified the area as Ashok Vihar in an earlier version.)
BOOM could verify that the video was from Badi Masjid, Ashok Nagar, Shahdara. We also reached out to The Wire journalists Naomi Barton and Avichal Dubey, who were on ground reporting the events. Barton confirmed to us that the video is from Badi Masjid, a local mosque located on Block D of West Jyoti Nagar area which was vandalised and later set on fire. "We reached the spot around 4 pm, the mosque had already been burnt down by then. When we were filming it from a nearby building, it was still on fire," Barton said.
The reporter also shared photos and videos from the area and ground floor of the mosque from February 25, with BOOM which corroborated the events.
The same address of the mosque was matched with the location available on Google maps. BOOM reached out to the number enlisted on the address of Badi Masjid, who confirmed the same. "The incident started around noon on Tuesday, when a group of men came and attacked the mosque and its adjoining shoe market. They looted and vandalised the shoe market area and later entered the mosque, which was then vandalised. We were terrified and locked ourselves in the house," a member of the mosque, who stays 200 metres away from the prayer area, said on conditions of anonymity.
The location of the mosque was corroborated by The Wire reporter Avichal Dubey, who shared videos of moments when the fire was being doused post the vandalisation.
Mosque located in Ashok Nagar and not Ashok Vihar
Speculations were rife about the authenticity of the video after the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), North West Delhi rubbished rumours of a vandalisation of a mosque in Delhi's Ashok Vihar.
DCP North West, Delhi: Some false information/news item has been circulating regarding damage to a mosque in Ashok Vihar area. It is to clarify that no such incident has taken place in the area of Ashok Vihar. Please do not spread false information.— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2020
The clarification was issued after netizens erroneously identified the area as Ashok Vihar, located almost 12 km away from Ashok Nagar, where the mosque was vandalised.
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