Indian official dismisses false claim of 'gold bars found in BJP politician campaign kit'

  • Published on June 7, 2024 at 09:44
  • Updated on June 7, 2024 at 09:52
  • 3 min read
  • By Asma HAFIZ, AFP India
An Indian police official has confirmed to AFP they did not find gold bars during a "routine check" on election kits to be given to campaign workers of a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician, contrary to false claims circulating alongside a video online. The politician Ajay Badgujar said he referred to plastic perfume bottles in the kit as "gold bars" out of frustration as he was held up in a police station for several hours during the check. 

"Every bag has one *Gold biscuit*. Bags containing BJP poster and banner and *one gold biscuit in every bag*. GHATKOPAR," read the English-language caption of a Facebook post that shared the video here on May 13, 2024.

The clip shows officials inspecting a carton box containing flags, posters and other campaign material. At the 21st-second mark of the video, an official held up a plastic rectangular bottle while Badgujar can be heard saying in an annoyed tone: "These are gold bars."

Screengrab of the false Facebook post.

The false claim surfaced before voting was due to take place in Ghatkopar -- a suburb in western Maharashtra state's Mumbai city -- on May 20 in the fifth phase of the six-week-long marathon Indian elections which ended on June 1 (archived link). 

Indian authorities stepped up patrol on the movement of cash, liquor and other goods that could be used to bribe voters during the election. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured a third term in office in the poll, but an unexpectedly close result would force his party -- the BJP -- into a coalition government. 

The video was shared alongside similar claims on social media platform X.

Plastic perfume bottles

A reverse image search on Google found the original video was posted on the Instagram account of Trupti Badgujar, daughter of Ajay Badgujar, saying the video shows the officials inspecting boxes of campaign materials (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip shared in false posts (left) and the video posted on Trupti's Instagram account (right):

Screenshot comparison of the clip shared in false posts (left) and the video posted on Trupti Badgujar's Instagram account (right)

Deepak Nikam, assistant commissioner of the Mumbai police, told AFP on May 22 that the video was filmed inside a police station, where officers searched Badgujar's election campaign kit as part of a "routine check". 

He went on to say Badgujar referred to the plastic perfume bottles as gold bars during the search "out of anger", but officers did not find such bars in the kit. 

Local news outlet NDTV reported Ajay Badgujar -- along with his family -- were forced to wait at the police station for several hours as the search took place (archived link).

Ajay Badgujar told AFP he had sarcastically referred to the plastic perfume bottle as a gold bar at the police station.

"I was out with my family and our car was stopped by the police for a routine check. They questioned me about the items but returned everything after verifying the items," he said.

AFP has previously debunked misinformation about elections in India here


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