Video posted with false claim it shows interior of contentious Hindu temple in India

  • Published on September 29, 2023 at 05:16
  • Updated on September 29, 2023 at 05:16
  • 3 min read
  • By Anuradha PRASAD, AFP India
Social media users have shared a video alongside a false claim it shows the interior of the Shri Ram temple -- hailed as one of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's election promises -- in northern India. However, the claim is false. The clip was actually filmed at a cultural centre in Nagpur city in western India. The Shri Ram temple was still under construction when the false claim circulated.

"Inside view of Shri Ram temple Ayodhya," reads the caption with the clip shared here on Facebook on September 17, 2023.

The video shows the inside of a building adorned with paintings of Hindu deities on its walls.

The posts have surfaced as Nripendra Misra -- head of the temple's construction committee -- said the building would be inaugurated in January, ahead of India's next general elections expected in early 2024 (archived link).

The temple has been a decades-old election promise of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and has also become a symbol of conflicts between Hindi and Muslim communities in India.

India's top court ruled in 2019 that the site -- where a 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was destroyed by a mob in 1992 -- must be handed over to a trust to oversee the construction of a Hindu temple.

The mosque's destruction sparked communal riots that left more than 2,000 people dead. AFP reported an Indian court acquitted top BJP leaders in 2020 that took part in the deadly demolition.

Image
Screenshot of the misleading post taken on September 21, 2023

The video was shared here and here on Facebook; and here and here on X, formerly known as Twitter, alongside similar claims.

But the claim is false. The video in fact shows a cultural centre in Nagpur city of Maharashtra, approximately 700 kilometres (about 440 miles) from Ayodhya.

Cultural centre in Maharashtra

A keyword search on X found a post on the official account of Indian President Droupadi Murmu published on July 5 (archived link).

The post's caption reads: "President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated Cultural Centre of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan at Koradi, Nagpur."

It also contains pictures of Murmu attending the cultural centre's inauguration on the day and they show the centre has the same decorations as those seen in the misleading post.

Below is a comparison of a screenshot from the video shared in misleading posts (left) and a picture posted on the official X account of the Indian president (right):

Image
Comparison of a screenshot from the video shared in misleading posts (left) and a picture posted on the official X account of the Indian President (right).

A reverse search on Google found the original video uploaded on a Facebook page called Nagpur Experience on July 8, 2023 (archived link).

The caption with the video identifies the building as the Cultural Centre of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in misleading posts (left) and the video uploaded on the original Facebook post (right). A watermark "Nagpur Experience" is visible in both images:

Image
Screenshot comparison of the video in misleading posts (left) and the video uploaded on original Facebook post (right).

The centre has also published a picture showing a similar scene on its website as seen below (right) (archived link).

Image
Screengrab of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan cultural centre website.
Image

Is there content that you would like AFP to fact-check? Get in touch.

Contact us