Old Video Falsely Shared As Poll-Rigging By Supporters of Indian Muslim Candidate


Election authorities in India’s southern state of Telangana confirmed a video shared online was filmed years before national elections in 2024, contrary to Facebook posts that falsely claimed it showed supporters of a Muslim candidate tampering with votes in this year’s polls. The footage has circulated online since at least February 2022 in news reports that said it showed voter fraud in the eastern state of West Bengal.

“Owaisi’s supporters are threatening everyone and driving them out and casting everyone’s votes themselves,” read a Facebook post that shared the video on May 17, 2024.

Asaduddin Owaisi is a prominent Muslim politician and critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist politics.

He is running for reelection and seeking to represent Telangana’s Hyderabad constituency for the fifth time.

Owaisi is one of the few Muslim lawmakers in Hindu-majority India, where many consider victory for Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections a near certainty.

While India’s Muslims make up a little under a sixth of its 1.4 billion population, Muslim representatives in parliament have almost halved to less than five percent since the 1970s.

“The election commission should cancel the Telangana election and hold it again under the supervision of an impartial army,” the Hindi-language post added.

The video appears to show a man casting multiple votes on an electronic voting machine, while another man in the foreground sorts through paperwork.

Nearly a billion Indians are voting to elect a new government in six-week-long parliamentary polls that began on April 19, the largest democratic exercise in the world.

AFP found no news reports about election rigging from Owaisi’s supporters in Telangana, where voting for all 17 constituencies wrapped up on May 13 (archived link).

However, the video spread in similar posts on Facebook and on social media platform X.

West Bengal video

A reverse image and keyword search on Google found the video posted on YouTube in February 2022 — two years before India’s parliamentary elections kicked off (archived link).

According to the YouTube video’s description, the incident happened in the Indian state of West Bengal, not Telangana.

“WB (West Bengal) Municipal Election 2022,” reads the Bengali-language title of the video posted by news channel TV9 Bangla.

“In booth No. 108 of Ward No. 33 of South Dumdum, the voter did not vote, the agent voted.”

The caption of the video and text overlay says: “Instead of voters, a polling agent is casting votes in an EVM (electronic voting machine) centre.”

TV9 Bangla reported that a polling agent voted in place of a citizen at the polling station at a school in Lake View School in the Indian city of South Dumdum (archived link).

It said the incident happened in full view of an election official.

Political parties in West Bengal expressed outrage at the apparent voter fraud in X posts (archived here and here).

Meanwhile, Hyderabad City Police posted on its official account on X that the video did not show rigging during the 2024 elections (archived link).

The chief electoral officer of Telangana also refuted the claim in a press release (archived link).

“It is hereby pointed out that this is an OLD VIDEO, NOT linked to the Parliamentary election in Telangana or to any other election in Telangana,” it said.

“The poll process in the state was conducted in a free and fair manner.”

Courtesy: AFP

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