Last week in India, a Muslim man was hounded and falsely accused of spreading coronavirus after a video went viral, showing him dropping currency notes at a petrol station. They said that it was done on purpose to spread COViD-19.
Later, an independent fact-checking website found out that the man was in fact paralysed, hence the notes fell to the ground. On Tuesday, many Indian Twitter users shared the update by Indian website AltNews, discussing how fake news and Islamophobia have spread in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 27, debunking the fake news, AltNews website’s co-founder Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker ) posted: “A Muslim man with partial paralysis in his hand accidentally dropped currency notes at a petrol pump. The video was shared by ABP News and TV9 Gujarati falsely connecting it with coronavirus. #AltNewsFactCheck”
According to the fact-checked article: “A CCTV footage showing a Muslim man in a petrol pump reaching for his pocket to make a payment and dropping something on the ground is massively viral on social media. Certain users have speculated that the man intentionally dropped currency notes to spread coronavirus infection. ABP News anchor Vikas Bhadauria tweeted the video saying, ‘Did he purposely drop the note or it fell by mistake? What could be his intentions?’.” The tweet by the said news anchor currently has over 253,000 views.
Another TV channel in Gujrat aired the video creating a coronavirus scare.
Several Indians on Twitter and Facebook started sharing the video claiming, “After taking the money, he threw a note using his other hand”. The owner of the petrol pump watched the CCTV footage and contacted the police and an FIR was lodged at the local Navsari police station.
When Alt News contacted the police regarding the video, Inspector P P Brahmabatt of the area’s rural police station: “We brought in the man seen in the clip for questioning. His name is Mohammed Yusuf Ilyas Shaikh, a resident of Valsad. During the questioning, we found that his right hand is paralysed after he had met with an accident. His right hand does not function properly which is why the notes fell out of his hand. A complaint has been filed against him for travelling from Valsad to Navsari during the lockdown.”
Police further confirmed that the man was tested for coronavirus and his result was negative.
According to the report, the man Ilyas told AltNews: “If you notice the video carefully, I used my left hand to reach my pocket and make the payment. During this time, I didn’t realise that notes got stuck between my fingers in the right hand and fell on the ground.”
“When I told the police about the paralysis in my right hand, they accepted that I dropped the note unintentionally. The people from the petrol pump also came to the police station. When they saw my hand, they understood that it was a mistake. I was subsequently given bail and have been staying at home as advised by the doctor,” he continued.
Ilyas also gave a video statement to the fact-checking team that shows severe injuries on his right hand.
While many people have shared the fact-checked report saying it was a sad situation that Islamophobia was so widespread in the country due to fake reports.
However, some tweeps continued to disbelieve the new report saying the man looks “perfectly alright” in the video and should not have been given a driving licence in the first place.
Last week, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Suresh Tiwari reportedly asked people in Deoria district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, not to purchase vegetables from Muslim vendors.
On April 25, a Muslim fruit vendor in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri was thrashed by people after they accused him of gargling water and spitting it on watermelons. According to a new report published by the Indian news website thehindu.com: “Kheri police on Tuesday said that the allegations made against the vendor, Chand Ali, that he spat on the watermelons turned out to be ‘false and baseless’ after a probe and questioning of the locals.”
Many Muslim and non-Muslim Twitter in India users have taken to the micro-blogging site to request the country’s lawmakers, to take action regarding the growing hatred for the minority community. They have also condemned messages of hatred shared by some Indians who promote communal disharmony.
Tweep @HaqKiAwaz5778 posted today: “OIC-IPHRC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation - The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission ) urges the Indian Govt to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of #Islamophobia in India and protect the rights of the Muslim minority.”