Indian election rally video falsely linked to protests in Pakistan's Kashmir

As deadly protests rocked Pakistan-administered Kashmir, footage of crowds packed onto a street circulated in social media posts falsely linking it to the unrest. The video in fact shows an election rally in India led by opposition politician Priyanka Gandhi.

"Muzaffarabad Revolution," reads an Urdu-language post on X, formerly Twitter, referring to the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The post, which racked up more than 120,000 views, shows a video of crowds and a convoy of vehicles parading down a street. 

A screenshot of the false X post, taken on May 20, 2024

The video circulated in similar posts on Facebook and X here, here and here.

Four people were killed in protests against rising living costs in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which ended on May 14 after organisers accepted a government offer of financial aid.

The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, who both claim it in full.

Pakistan has recently suffered through a major financial crisis which saw imports blocked, inflation soar and the rupee plummet against the dollar.

However, inflation has steadily reduced and the currency rate has stabilised, with the help of an International Monetary Fund agreement.

India election rally

A reverse image search and keyword searches on Google and YouTube found the footage in a YouTube video that said it was filmed in India, not Pakistan (archived link). 

According to the Indian media platform News Express, the footage shows a rally for India's opposition Congress party ahead of national elections in April.

The event in Saharanpur in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state was led by Priyanka Gandhi, a Congress leader, the News Express said.

"Huge crowd at Priyanka Gandhi's road show in Saharanpur," reads Hindi text at the top of the video.

Screenshot from News Express''s video of the rally, taken on May 21, 2024

The Congress party's Kerala chapter also posted the footage on X on April 17, 2024 with the caption: "Smt (Ms) @priyankagandhi's roadshow in Saharanpur, UP" (archived link).

Gandhi can be seen wearing a pink sari and sitting on the roof of a white car in footage of the rally published by Indian news channel NDTV (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in false posts (left) and NDTV's video (right), with Gandhi highlighted by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the video shared in false posts (left) and NDTV''s video (right), with Gandhi highlighted by AFP

AFP previously debunked false posts linked to protests in Pakistan-administered Kashmir here

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