An old video showing Dawoodi Bohra youth licking used utensils is being shared with false communal spin that it is being done in mosques with an intention to spread the coronavirus and infect more people.
BOOM found that the video actually shows a symbolic practice that is associated with not wasting a single grain of food, carried out by the Bohra community. The clip has no relation to the current outbreak of the coronavirus.
The video is being shared with a Hindi caption which claims, "Mullahs licking empty utensils in mosques so that more and more of these epidemics can spread. These mullahs are already infected with Coronavirus and the government is catching them and treating them. why? Corona is not spreading in India but is being spread. See in the video."
(In Hindi - मस्जिदों में छुपे मुल्ला खाली बर्तनों को झूठा करते हुए ताकि ज्यादा से ज्यादा ये महामारी फ़ैल सके.......... ये मुल्ला पहले से ही KORONA ग्रसित है ये लोग जानते है और सरकार इन्हें पकड़ के इलाज करा रहे है, आखिर क्यों......... भारत में कोरोना फैल नहीं रहा है बल्कि फैलाए जा रहा हैं। देखें वीडियो में)
Viral on Facebook
The video is viral with the same false claim on Facebook.
The video has resurfaced after several people who took part in a religious congregation of the Tabligh-e-Jamaat''s Markaz in Nizamuddin West in Delhi earlier this month, tested positive for the coronavirus. The event which lasted a few weeks in early March and which ended before a total lockdown was announced on March 24, saw attendees from outside India. The event continued despite restrictions on large gatherings and movement of people in many parts of the country. The organisers of the gathering are now under fire from the Indian government and the mainstream media. Read more about it here.
We broke the video into keyframes and performed a reverse image search and found that the video goes back to at least to July 2018.
We found the same video uploaded on Vimeo on July 31, 2018, and the caption with the video states that it shows members of the Bohra community.
Additionally, the skull caps worn by the youth in the viral video are distinct and match those worn by members of the Bohra community.
BOOM contacted Zoher Ali, administrator of Dana Committee, a Dawoodi Bohra organisation who said that he knew the boys seen in the viral video.
"This is a 3-year-old video from Marol, Mumbai where the members of the group were cleaning the food leftovers in order to prevent food wastage," Ali told BOOM.
Ali told BOOM that this is a symbolic practice observed by the Dawoodi Bohra community and it is done after a meal is over and before washing the dishes.
"What this video shows is one of the initiatives where the leftover food from the cutlery and dinner plates is cleaned in order to make sure that absolutely no food is wasted. The idea behind the same is simple that people should realise the value of food no matter how little."
It is important to specify that the practice is not done with clean utensils or before a meal.
BOOM also found the Instagram account of the Dana Committee, where nearly every post is about communicating zero tolerance of food wastage in the community.
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(Additional reporting by Mohammed Kudrati)
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