This video has circulated since 2016 in reports about a noise complaint at a Mumbai mosque

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A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter alongside a claim it shows a Muslim politician in India urging a police officer to open a mosque in order to allow people to pray during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. The claim is false; the video has actually circulated online since at least 2016 in reports about a noise complaint at a Mumbai mosque.

The video was published here on Facebook on April 28, 2020. It has been viewed more than 5,300 times.

The 56-second video shows Indian politician Waris Pathan talking to a uniformed police officer. 

His comments in Hindi translate to English in part as: “These people are innocent and living here for forty years. Please don’t trouble them. We are offering prayers in this mosque for forty years, don’t try to shut the mosque, don’t try to shut down the loudspeaker, and don’t enter the mosque at night with shoes on. The women have complained that police entered into their rooms during the night. 

“We are law abiding citizens and do our work as per the rules and regulations, but we’ll not tolerate it if you do injustice to us or show high handedness. Deshmukh sir, leave us as we are. We operate by the law but you can shoot me if you want and you have courage, we are ready… Let the mosque function as usual and keep the loudspeaker on as it was.” 

Below is screenshot of the misleading post:

Screenshot of misleading Facebook post

The post caption states: “#Warispathan... See their dadagiri with our Coronavirus warriors who is doing their duty towards us to save our lives & these type of mullahs are threatening the police officer who is doing his duty very honestly”.

Waris Pathan is spokesperson for the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), a regional political party with a stronghold in the Indian state of Telanagna. He also served as a Legislative Assembly member for Maharashtra from 2014 to 2019. 

Coronavirus warriors” is a term coined by the Indian government for those at the forefront of the COVID-19 response, including doctors and the police.

Mullahs” is a word for “an educated Muslim trained in religious law and doctrine and usually holding an official post”, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The video has also been shared here, here, here and here on Facebook and here, here, here and here on Twitter, alongside a similar claim.

It has also been shared here and here on Facebook and here and here on Twitter with a similar claim in Hindi. 

The claim is false; the video has circulated online since at least 2016.

A keyword search on Google found a longer version of the video published here on the YouTube channel of the Indian news outlet “Mumbai Live” on November 16, 2016.

The video is titled: “Waris Pathan abuses police | Mumbai Live”.

Its description reads: “Video of MIM MLA Waris Pathan abusing police has gone viral. This happened when police asked Pathan to lower down the loud speaker’s voice which did not go well with Pathan and he started abusing the police.”

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (L) and the YouTube video (R):

Image comparing screenshots

A further keyword search found another longer version of the video published here on the official YouTube channel of the AIMIM, dated November 14, 2016.

The video's caption states: “Yesterday's Night Situation was tensed at Byculla due to issue of Loudspeakers at Mosque..!”

Pathan also addressed the misleading claim himself in this tweet published on his Twitter account on April 28, 2020.

Addressed to Mumbai Police, the Twitter thread reads: “Sir @CPMumbaiPolice I would like to bring it to your notice that some people are trying to spread false news in this pandemic by posting 5yrs old video where the issue of loudspeaker was resolved after my timely intervention in the presence of Cops. @asadowaisi.”

“After my intervention issue was resolved & the Cops present there also thanked me for it. I would to urge @AnilDeshmukhNCP & @MahaCyber1 to take note of these fake posts & take action as per law, dont let any miscreants disturb the peace of nation & state. Fake news must stop.”