A month-old video, where a man in a police van is seen spitting at a police officer, is being shared with the narrative that it shows a Muslim man spitting on the police during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in India.
The narrative is entirely false; the incident in the video - shot in Mumbai on February 29 - took place before the epidemic reached the city, and it shows an undertrial man spit on a police officer for denying him home-cooked food.
BOOM spotted the 27-second clip being on Twitter with communally charged captions, along with hashtags like #CoronaJihad.
Taking cue from the captions we performed some keyword searches on Facebook to find the video going viral on the social media platform.
The video is being shared in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 2100 positive cases already detected in India, and the death toll reaching 56 at the time of writing this article.
The novel coronavirus is said to be transmitted through droplets - suggesting that sneezing, spitting or coughing are major means of transmission.
BOOM did a Google search with the keywords "man spit on cop India" and came across multiple news reports about an incident in Mumbai, where an undertrial man spat on a cop in a police van because he was denied home-cooked food.
We found the longer version of the video uploaded on YouTube by Times of India on March 2, 2020, titled, "Watch: Scuffle breaks out inside police van after undertrial attack and spits on cops". The caption read: "An undertrial allegedly attacked and spit on a few members of the Mumbai police escort party on Saturday".
This PTI article, published by NDTV on February 29, 2020, gives a more elaborate account of the incident behind the video. According to the article, a 26-year-old undertrial man named Mohammad Sohal Shaukat Ali spat on a cop and attacked some other police officers after he was denied home-cooked food brought by his family at a court in Mumbai.
Thane Police spokesperson Sukhada Narkar told PTI, "Ali was taken to the court along with 11 other undertrials for a court hearing on Friday. After the hearing got over, one of Ali's relatives tried to give him home-cooked food outside the court. However, the escort party did not allow him to have it. Ali got annoyed over this and started abusing the policemen. When he was being taken to the jail in a police van, he started arguing with the members of the escort party. He spit on one policeman and manhandled another one. He also bit the finger of another policeman."
The incident happened on February 29, and has nothing to do with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in India, as claimed by the viral posts.
In fact, the first few positive cases in Maharashtra were detected much later - on March 9, when a group of people traveling from Dubai to Mumbai and Pune tested positive after showing symptoms for COVID-19.