Video shows street performance portraying Hindu nationalist group as assailants

An old clip of a street theatre performance has been shared in social media posts that falsely claimed it showed a supporter of a right-wing Hindu nationalist group being pulled out of her car and shot by Muslims in Kerala. The video has circulated since September 2017, when members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India staged a street performance about violence "supported" by the same right-wing group. 

The clip was shared on social media platform X on June 26, 2024.

Referring to the right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the clip's Hindi-language caption read, "In Kerala, an RSS-supporting woman was pulled out of her car and shot by Muslims in the middle of the market" (archived link).

It added that after the purported murder, Hindus were warned that "if anyone supports the RSS and BJP the same fate will be meted out to them".

Text overlaid on the clip repeats the claim.

Screenshot of the false X post, captured on July 4, 2024

The clip was shared alongside similar claims elsewhere on X as well as on Facebook.

But the clip is old and does not depict a real murder.

Street performance

A reverse image search on Google using keyframes from the clip led to the same video posted on Facebook by "CPIM Cyber Commune" -- which appears to be a reference to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) -- on September 9, 2017 (archived link).

The video's Malayalam-language caption says it shows a street performance highlighting "the RSS role in the murder of Gauri Lankesh".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip used in the false post (left) and the video posted on Facebook (right):

Screenshot comparison of the clip used in the false post (left) and the video posted on Facebook in 2017 (right)

According to local media, the street performance was organised by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in the Malappuram district of Kerala after the murder of Gauri Lankesh, a newspaper editor and outspoken critic of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, in September 2017 (archived link).

Syam Prasad, the head of the DYFI's Malappuram unit, told AFP on June 25, 2024: "The video is not an actual murder but of a street play staged in the Kalikavu area of Malappuram in 2017. The individuals seen in the video are DYFI workers.

"The play aimed to highlight incidents of violence allegedly supported by the RSS across the country." 

The clip was also shared in 2017 with the false claim it depicted a woman killed by Muslims (archived link).


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