Clip shows India worker destroying solar panels over unpaid wages, not a curse

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A Twitter post shared in Nigeria featuring a video of people hitting solar panels with hammers claims they did so because they believed the panels were cursed and caused a drought. In response, several users wrote comments suggesting the video was filmed in Nigeria. However, AFP Fact Check found the video shows workers in India and that they were protesting over unpaid wages, not a curse.

"Video of a community destroying installed solar panels claiming they stop the rains & causes drought has gone viral. They went about on a destructive mission, presumably on the cause of their curse," reads the caption of a tweet published on April 29, 2023.

A screenshot of the false post, taken on April 27, 2023

The post, which shows people hitting solar panels with hammers and sticks, has been liked more than 1,200 times.

The account behind the tweet is based in Nigeria and has a history of sharing content critical of the president-elect from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.

While the post’s caption does not explicitly mention a location, several comments suggest that users believe this video was taken in Nigeria.

"We tell Nigerian rulers that if you like invest Trillions in Infrastructure. If you don’t educate the people and ensure security off likes AND PROPERTIES it’s an absolute waste of money (sic)," reads one comment.

However, allegations that the incident was linked to a curse or Nigeria are false.

Old footage

By conducting a keyword search for "people destroying solar panels", AFP Fact Check found the original footage (archived here) published on YouTube.

The video, titled "Solar modules at 100 Mx solar plan in Maharastra destroyed due to non payment of wages", was published in 2018 by a channel called Climate Samurai.

The first 30 seconds of the video show the same footage used in the Twitter post but includes text saying the location of the clip is Chalisgaon, Maharashtra, a state in western India.

A screenshot of the original video, taken on April 27, 2023

The video also includes text reading: "Over 100 modules were damaged due to non payement."

There is no mention of a curse.

A February 2018 report from Go News (archived here) also discusses the vandalisation, including the same footage used in the Twitter post.

At 14 seconds in, the news anchor says: "A 100 MW solar plant in Maharashtra’s Chalisgaon was vandalised/destroyed by workers of the plant… the reason was non-payment of their salaries and making them work without pay."

The same video has been used to spread misinformation in India in the past (archived here).

2018 article

A 2018 article (archived here) on Climate Samurai’s website about the incident says the video was filmed in Chalisgaon in the Maharashtra region.

AFP Fact Check’s India team confirmed that the people in the video speak the Ahirani dialect, which is found in the country’s Maharashtra state (archived here).

This dialect is mainly spoken in the region where Chalisgaon is located.

A screenshot from Google Maps, taken on April 27, 2023

While AFP Fact Check did not confirm the exact location of the solar panels, there is a large solar panel field in Chalisgaon.