This video shows a former municipal councillor in Sri Lanka, not a minister

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A video has been viewed thousands of times in Bengali-language posts that claim it shows Sri Lanka's information minister after he was attacked during unrest on the island nation over a deepening economic crisis. This is misleading; the man in the video is actually a former councillor in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, not a government minister.  

The video was shared here on Facebook on May 11, 2022.

It shows a disorientated-looking man walking along a residential street.

Later in the clip, he can be seen sitting on a doorstep while putting his hand to his head. 

A screenshot of the misleading post on Facebook

The post's Bengali-language caption translates to English as: “The Sri Lankan information minister. The worldly power is temporary.”

Deadly clashes erupted in Sri Lanka after weeks of protests demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation over a dire economic crisis.

Police said mobs torched dozens of homes of ruling-party politicians.

The same video was shared here and here on Facebook alongside a similar claim. 

However, the claim is misleading.

Former councillor

The video actually shows Mahinda Kahandagama, a former municipal councillor and a supporter of the ruling SLPP (Sri Lanka People’s Front) party. 

The same video was posted by the Sri Lankan English-language newspaper Daily Mirror on Twitter on May 9, 2022.

The post reads: “Mahinda Kahandagama, President of the Colombo Municipal Councilors 'and Employees' Union of the Sri Lanka People's Front (SLPP) participated in a protest rally in front of the Temple Trees Gate this morning in support of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.”

Mahinda Rajapaksa served as president between 2005 and 2015; on the day the tweet was published, Rajapaksa resigned as the country's prime minister.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip in the misleading posts (left) and the Twitter video (right): 

Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip in the misleading posts (left) and a photo taken from Kahandagama's Facebook account (right): 

The man seen in the misleading posts closely resembles the man featured on Kahandagama's Facebook account. 

The attack on Kahandagama was also reported here by Sri Lankan media outlet News 19 on May 9.

The Sinhala-language report translates to English in part as: "Former Municipal Councilor and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna affiliated Federation of the Self-Employed, Mahinda Kahandagama has been attacked.

"It happened when he came to Colombo to attack and set fire to peaceful protesters."

Mistaken identity

Sri Lanka's current minister of information and mass media is Nalaka Godahewa.

A photo of him can be seen on the website of Sri Lanka's ministry of mass media.

"I was not attacked, that is not me [in the video]," Godahewa told AFP.

"My home was attacked and burnt by mobs. I was not at home at the time," he added.

Godahewa also spoke about his home being burnt to the Sri Lankan newspaper Daily News here on May 12.