This video has circulated in reports since at least February 2020, weeks before the incident at a coronavirus quarantine facility in India
A video has been viewed thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and YouTube alongside a claim it shows a Muslim man spitting at Indian police officers after being detained over scuffles at a coronavirus quarantine centre in April 2020. The claim is misleading; the video has circulated in reports since at least February 2020, weeks before the incident at the coronavirus quarantine centre; local police told AFP the video shows an incident in February 2020 and is unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The video was published here on Twitter on April 2, 2020, and has since been viewed more than 14,000 times.
The 27-second video shows a man being subdued after purportedly spitting at uniformed officers.
Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:
The post’s caption states: “Look at this mullah, what he did with our police officer! #TabhleegiJamaat #मुस्लिम_मतलब_आतंकवादी #TablighiJamaat #CoronaJihad #coronavirus #CoronaInMaharashtra”
Mullah is a religious leader or scholar in Islam, and “Tabhleegi Jamaat” or “Tablighi Jamaat” in the hashtags are the names of an Islamic missionary movement.
The post was published one day after a scuffle broke out at a quarantine facility housing those who attended a religious gathering organised by Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi in March 2020. The congregation was later identified as a major novel coronavirus hotspot that killed at least 10 attendees, as stated in this AFP report.
On April 1, 2020, those quarantined at a facility run by Indian Railways in Tughlakabad area of Delhi reportedly “spat at” doctors over complaints about food, prompting a police response. Here is a report on the incident by the local English-language newspaper India Today.
The Indian news agency ANI also published this tweet on April 1, 2020, quoting a railway official: “Occupants were unruly since morning&made unreasonable demand for food items. They misbehaved&abused staff at Quarantine Centre.Also they started spitting all over&on persons working/attending them incl doctors.They also started roaming around hostel building.”
Occupants were unruly since morning&made unreasonable demand for food items. They misbehaved&abused staff at Quarantine Centre.Also they started spitting all over&on persons working/attending them incl doctors.They also started roaming around hostel building:CPRO Northern Railway https://t.co/mKLP1UQgJg— ANI (@ANI) April 1, 2020
The claim is misleading.
A Google reverse image search using a keyframe generated by InVID-WeVerify, a video verification tool, found this longer version of the video. It was published on the Twitter account of the Indian newspaper Mumbai Mirror on February 29, 2020, weeks before the incident at the coronavirus quarantine centre in Delhi.
The tweet states: “Thane Police beat man for spitting on them.”
Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading post (L) and the video posted on the Mumbai Mirror's Twitter account (R):
AFP found a full report here on the Mumbai Mirror website, dated February 29, 2020.
It is headlined: "Watch: Denied home-cooked food, undertrial attacks cop inside a police van in Thane.”
The report reads in part: “A 26-year-old undertrial allegedly attacked a few members of the police escort party after they did not allow him to have home-cooked food brought by his family members at a court in Mumbai, an official said on Saturday.
“[The suspect] got annoyed over this and started abusing the policemen. When he was being taken to jail in a police van, he started arguing with the members of the escort party. He spit on one policeman and manhandled another one. He also bit the finger of another policeman."
Thane Police also rebuked the claim, saying the video is unrelated to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering. A spokesperson told AFP via Twitter direct message on April 14, 2020: “The incident in the video is old.”