No, This Video Does Not Show The Hindu Priest Who Was Lynched In Palghar
BOOM found that the Hindu priest seen in the viral video and one of the two priests lynched in Maharashtra's Palghar region are not the same.
A video showing a Hindu priest talking about creating a 'Hindu rashtra' (Hindu nation) has been falsely linked to the shocking incident in Maharashtra's Palghar region - where a mob lynched three people, including two priests, on the night of April 16, 2020.
A caption with the viral video claims that the priest shown in the video is one of the two priests who were lynched by the mob. BOOM found the claim to be false as the priest seen in the video is different and not one of the deceased.
On April 16, three people, including a 70-year man, were lynched in Palghar, Maharashtra on suspicion of being thieves. The trio was reportedly crossing the village while on their way to Surat to attend a funeral. They were pelted with stones and attacked with sticks, before they succumbed to their injuries. The videos coming out from the spot show brutal assault on the septuagenarian monk, who is escorted by local police. Read BOOM's report on the Palghar mob lynching incident here. As disturbing visuals of the mob beating the men to death emerged online, the incident triggered widespread outrage and accusations that the attack was communally motivated and that Palghar Police did nothing to shield the men from the mob's fury. BOOM found that fake messages claiming child kidnappers and thieves are on the prowl in various villages in Palghar were viral among local residents, days before the incident.
The four-minute long video going viral shows an old man dressed in a saffron robes calling for the need of uniting Hindus to build a Hindu rashtra. He appeals to people to pick up arms in order to safeguard Sanatan Dharma. In the latter part of the video, another man standing next to ascetic refers to him as 'respected Jeeyar Swami'.
A Hindi message with the viral video says 'He is the same 70-year-old sage ascetic who was brutally lynched by a mob in Palghar. After watching the video you will understand why he was killed and how important he was for us. May his soul rest in peace'.
(Hindi: ये वही 70 वर्षीय साधु है जिनकी पालघर में निर्मम हत्या कर दी गई है। वीडियो देखने के बाद समझ आ जाएगा कि इन्हें क्यो मारा गया और ये हमारे लिए कितने जरूरी थे....ईश्वर इनकी आत्मा को शांति दे।)
Watch the viral post below and check its archived version here.
Also read How Child Kidnapping Rumours Led To A Mob Lynching In Palghar
The video has also been shared on Twitter.
ये वही 70 वर्षीय साधु है जिनकी पालघर में निर्मम हत्या कर दी गई है वीडियो देखने के बाद समझ आ जाएगा कि इन्हें क्यो मारा गया और ये हमारे लिए कितने जरूरी थे— Bharat Magar (@BhartMagar) April 22, 2020
ईश्वर इनकी आत्मा को शांति दे pic.twitter.com/ROF8zRhr5B
Also read Viral Communal Tweet Attributed To Jaaved Jaaferi Is Fake
BOOM did a reverse image search of a screen grab from the viral video with keyword 'Jeeyar Swami' as the priest was addressed by one of his disciples. We found a YouTube video of the same person giving a sermon in 2014, which shows the name of the priest as Sri Vrathadhara Ramanuja Jeeyar Swami.
We searched the internet with the name as keyword and found a report in Siasat Daily which mentions the swamy as the national president of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. However, the report did not carry an image of the ascetic.
BOOM then searched Facebook with the same keyword but could not find any profile by this name. We then tweaked the combination of words and found a Facebook profile by the name Srinivas Vratadhar Jeeyar. The display picture on the profile resembled the man in the viral clip. The account doesn't provide much information on the person except for Hyderabad being mentioned as his hometown.
Another Facebook profile in the name of Vrathadhar Ramanuja Jeeyar also had several photos of the same priest shown in the viral video.
Jeeyars are a line of monks who are the followers of Ramanujacharya, an Indian theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism.
Also read PTI Misreports Maharashtra Home Minister On Palghar Lynching
BOOM then scanned through the videos and pictures on the profile. While BOOM could not find the viral clip shared from this profile, we did find another video - uploaded in 2015 - where the priest can be seen talking about unifying Hindus.
BOOM compared the two videos and found similarities in the physical features and voices of the men in the two clips.
Also, the Hindu priests in both the videos have adorned their forehead with a tilak in a similar pattern. This pattern of applying tilak is a signature style of Jeeyar swamis.
However, the septuagenarian monk who was killed in Palghar had no tilak on his forehead. According to news reports, the monk Kalpavruksha Giri belonged to the Juna akhara. According to Indian philosophy, akharas are centers of debates and religious discussions.
BOOM compared the screenshots of the viral clip and the video shared from Srinivas Vratadhar Jeeyar's profile, and the picture of the monk who was lynched in Palghar.
BOOM also called the Hyderabad ashram of Chinna Jeeyar to get more information on Srinivasa Vrathadhara Jeeyar. The report will be updated upon receiving a response.
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