With the fake news menace on the rise, a viral video claiming that a Hindu woman in Bangladesh is forcibly being converted to Islam has sparked outrage among people. Widely circulated on social media, the post made people raise questions on the condition of Hindu minorities in Bangladesh.
The viral video
Tyagraj Shekhawat, a Twitter user, posted this video on Saturday, January 26, and tagged Aajtak. With the post, he wrote in Hindi, “”Iss Bangladeshi Hindu Mahila ke dharmantakaran kay yeh video Sylhet ka bataya ja raha hai, jaha saare Hindu parivaaro ka safaya kar diya gaya, auraton ko chhorkar…” (It is being said that this video is from Sylhet where a Bangladeshi Hindu woman is being converted to Islam, where barring a few women, Hindu families have been cleansed).
This post was shared by over 3,000 people and was liked by more than 2,500, and several people, believing the claim to be true, also shared it on Facebook.
In the viral video, which is around 2-minute long, a man is seen holding a woman from behind and torturing her, and other man threatening her with a knife. The whole conversation in the video is in Bengali, and some other women wearing burqa can also be seen present in the room.
At a certain point in the video, the woman is forced to say in Bengali, “I am now converted to Islam from Hinduism”.
The post had been shared on Twitter by some user called @haivri, and in the comments, some other users raised doubt on whether the video was really of religious conversion, including a user called @moinaksg.
I speak Bengali. It is my native language. The video is an exorcism video. Found the full video here. https://t.co/7xYy4SkUL0
The woman is Muslim and supposedly attacked by a Hindu jinn. Though the entire event is outrageous, this is not a case of forced conversion.
— 71dejavu (@moinaksg) January 27, 2019
Not religious conversion but exorcism
India Today reported that when they searched the internet with the combination of the keywords “Hindu Jinn exorcism” in Bengali, they found a few videos related to it.
EM Multimedia, a Bangladeshi YouTube channel, posted a longer version of the video on January 19 of this year, with the Bengali caption, “This is the best video of exorcism. See how a Hindu Jinn is converted to Islam”.
RH Bangla TV, another YouTube channel, also posted the video writing that village women are often sexually exploited in the name of exorcism.
The woman can be heard in the video calling the man ‘Huzoor’, which refers to an exorcist in local parlance in Bangladesh. As the exorcist shoves a knife in a bucket of sand, the woman cries in Bengali, “Huzoor I will leave this place forever, even the earth”.
According to local correspondent Shahidul Khokan, the typical Bengali accent heard in the video is widely spoken in South-Eastern Bangladesh’s Chittagong area. In this subcontinent, this form of exorcism where there is he supposed expulsion of “jinn” of another religion, is prevalent in almost all religions, which include Muslims.
Twitter user Tyagraj Shekhawat, however, has now deleted the original post and has tweeted an apology in Hindi instead.
The Logical Indian take
As citizens of the country, we have a certain responsibility. While trolls and parody accounts have taken the responsibility upon themselves to share as much false information as possible, it is our responsibility to differentiate between what is true and what isn’t, while making others aware about the issue too
Creating or sharing fake news is never justified. We have a responsibility to verify everything that we post on the internet. To ensure that our national debate is healthy and well-informed, each and every one of us has a responsibility of treating what we read with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of doubt, and a flood of research.