An old photo of a Muslim man - Nazeer Mohammed - wearing a turban is being shared linking him to the ongoing Delhi Chalo march by farmers, with a false claim that he is pretending to be a Sikh farmer.
BOOM spoke to Mohammed, a resident of Sukhgarh village in Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar of Mohali, Punjab who was shocked that his image and name was being used to spread disinformation.
Mohammed is an electrician with the Punjab State Electricity Board. He has filed a police complaint with the cyber cell after his images went viral with a fake narrative. "Is being a Muslim such a big crime that people across the country are sharing the photo of a man from a tiny village?" a harrowed Mohammed told BOOM.
The viral Facebook posts and tweets show a collage of Mohammed, with photos showing him with and without a turban while highlighting his name. The caption reads, ''And then comes Nazeer Mohd. Sikhs became farmers by wearing turban. The truth is that this is not a farmer's movement but a Khal ' ist ' ani (Khalistani) propaganda, these are the same people who were also involved in CAA Protests and Shaheen Bagh.''
(Original in Hindi: ''और फिर Nazeer Mohd. पगड़ी पहनकर Sikh किसान बन गए. सच्चाई ये है कि ये किसान आंदोलन नही बल्कि Khal'ist'ani प्रोपगंडा है, ये वही लोग हैं जो CAA प्रोटेस्ट्स और Shaheen Bagh में भी शामिल थे.)
Another caption claims the farmers march is 'Khalistani propaganda' which is using Muslims to disguise its real intention.
Archive of the post can be seen here.
Several Bharatiya Janata Party members including Shalabh Mani Tripathi, Information advisor to Yogi Adityanath, tweeted the fake claim with a similar claim alleging that Mohammed has disguised himself as a Sikh to take part in the protest
BOOM first ran a search for the Facebook profile with the same name and found the same one being used in the viral posts. The profile has since been locked but BOOM accessed the photos and posts before that and found that the viral photograph was posted by Mohammed on April 8, 2020.
Mohammed posted the picture months before the three controversial farm bills were passed and the subsequent farmers agitation began in various states across the country.
We also reached out to Nazeer Mohammed who confirmed that the photo is from April and said he took a selfie with the bus as it was the first one with a stop in his village - Sukhgarh. "My photo posing in front of the bus with some other villagers was also published by a newspaper - Punjabi Tribune. I clicked the photo in January and uploaded it to Facebook on April 8, 2020. The news article carries a similar photo with all the members of the Panchayat posing in front of it and was published on January 12, 2020," he said.
Mohammed shared a clipping of the newspaper with us and the same has been attached below.
We translated the news article which is in Punjabi and found that it corroborates what Mohammed said. The photo shows Nazeer (fourth from the left) standing in front of the bus with other villagers with the caption saying, "To mark the start the bus service, Sukhgarh village panchayat distributed sweets". The text details the bus route number and the villages including Sukhgarh where Nazeer stays and hospitals included in the route to help the villagers.
He can be seen wearing the same coloured turban and clothes in the viral photo and in the newspaper clipping.
Mohammed said that he can be seen wearing a turban in the newspaper clipping too. He explained that he has been wearing a turban especially for work for the last two years since he joined the Punjab State Electricity Board as an electrician and lineman. "The Board has made it compulsory for us to wear helmets when working but it hinders my vision. So a friend suggested wearing a turban and also gifted me one. After speaking to the elders of the village, I started wearing it and since then have worn it everyday," Mohammed said.
He added that while he supports the farmers agitation happening in Delhi, he has not physically joined the protest.
Mohammed has also filed a complaint with the local police authorities which has been signed by all other villagers as a show of support to him. BOOM accessed a copy of the same and it can be seen below.
We also found a video aired by a local news channel - ProPunjab where they visited Mohammed at his village in Sukhgarh and interviewed him. In the video too, Mohammed is seen wearing a green turban.
Updated On: 2020-11-30T21:29:55+05:30
Claim : Picture shows Nazeer Mohammed, a Muslim person who has disguised himself as a Sikh man to pass off as a farmer.
Claimed By : Social Media Posts
Fact Check : False