The Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit deleted a video from its official Facebook page on Thursday after a journalist pointed out that he had been falsely identified as someone who was killed in post-poll violence in the state.
Abhro Banerjee tweeted a screenshot of the video where he was identified as “Manik Moitro” from Sitalkuchi. He also posted a link to the purported video.
“I am Abhro Banerjee, living and hale and hearty and around 1,300 km away from Sitalkuchi,” the journalist tweeted. “BJP IT Cell is now claiming I am Manik Moitra [spelt ‘Moitro’ in the video] and died in Sitalkuchi. Please don’t believe these fake posts and please don’t worry. I repeat: I am (still) alive.”
Banerjee also posted a downloaded version of the video in his Facebook post with the same message. His photo can be seen at 2:36 minutes.
The development came amid reports of several killings in political clashes in West Bengal since results for the Assembly elections on May 2. Various news reports have put the toll between 11 and 20, but the police have not yet confirmed the numbers. On Thursday, the Union home ministry formed a four-member team to inquire into the reports. On Wednesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee transferred 30 top officers, including the director general of police.
While the violence has been widely reported and condemned, it has also come to light that several BJP leaders have shared false and misleading information on social media.
Party MP Swapan Dasgupta, who was also a candidate in the Assembly elections from Tarakeswar constituency, on May 3 alleged that women were molested in Nanoor in Birbhum district. Another BJP leader Saumitra Khan also tweeted on those lines.
However, Birbhum Superintendent of Police NN Tripathi said that no such incident took place. “I inform everyone that it’s fake news,” Tripathi said. Later, a woman polling agent of the BJP also told Bangla daily Anandabazar Patrika that the allegation was false.
Dasgupta, in his tweet, had also claimed that “more than a thousand Hindu families” were under attack, even though the police have not said anything on the violence being on communal lines.
In another instance, BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted a video of some men assaulting women, saying, “TMC Muslim goons are beating BJP women workers in Kendamari village, Nandigram”. However, speaking to the Newslaundry, an officer at the Nandigram police station said that the video was related to a personal dispute, and not a political clash.