Images of men praying and celebrating Iftar have gone viral across social media with a communal angle. The image has gone viral in the context of several claims viral across social media that aim to inflame communal tensions.
The recent backlash against the use of loudspeakers during azaan prayers and the controversy surrounding the Gyanvapi Mosque has been followed with misinformation with a communal angle.
The viral image is a collage of four images which shows men participating in Islamic religious rituals and celebrations. The men can be seen partaking in a feast. Several such posts can be found here.
A Facebook user shared these images and wrote a caption in Hindi which reads, "ये फोटो किसी मस्जिद की नहीं एक बैंक की है| यह फोटो बाराबंकी जिले के HDFC Bank की है। यहां बैंक ब्रांच में प्रतिदिन रोजा इफ्तार व नमाज हो रही है! और बैंक ब्रांच में यह कई वर्षों से किया जा रहा है। क्या एचडीएफसी बैंक वाले हिंदू ग्राहकों को रामायण का अखंड पाठ ब्रांच में इस तरह करने की अनुमति देंगे ?सेकुलरिज्म के इस ढकोसले का विरोध करना आवश्यक है। #बाराबंकी #Barabanki #HDFC #HDFCBank
[English Translation: This photo is of a bank, not of a mosque. This photo is of HDFC Bank in the Barabanki district. Roza Iftar and Namaz is held every day in the bank branch here. This is being done in the bank branch for many years. Will HDFC Bank allow Hindu customers to conduct Akhand Path of Ramayana in this branch? It is necessary to oppose this hypocrisy of secularism.]
The viral posts claim that only Islamic festivals are permitted to be celebrated in the HDFC Barabanki branch. Only Muslims are allowed to celebrate festivals such as Iftar while Hindus were ignored.
OpIndia, known for sharing fake news in the past also done a report on it with anti-Muslim angle. In the report, it was claimed that only Muslim customers were invited in this iftar party.
The Logical Indian fact check team verified the viral claim and found it to be false. Bank customers of other religions were also invited by the Bank.
We conducted a reverse image search on each of the images in the collage and came across the following report on Newstrack Live which asserted that the incident had taken place at the HDFC branch in Barabanki district in Uttar Pradesh.
The report talked about the feast organised on the occasion of iftar in the city branch of HDFC Bank. The report quotes the name of the branch manager who organized the Iftari program as Zaheer Abbas.
We conducted another keyword search and came across this report by Bhaskar. The translated headline of the report reads: "Unique example of unity: Hindu employees posted in the bank had iftar with Muslim customers."
The report, published in April 2022, mentions that Hindu employees in the bank joined the Muslim customers on the bank premises for the iftar feast. All the preparations for Roza Iftar were done by the bank employees. The report also mentions that the employees in the bank celebrate Hanuman Jayanti, Holi and Diwali on every occasion.
In the video attached with the Bhaskar report, the bank employees can be seen giving the statements. The deputy manager of the bank branch can be heard saying, "All customers regardless of their religion have been invited to the iftar party." In the video, one participant in the iftar can be heard saying, "During a time in India, when communal tensions in India have increased, this is a good step by HDFC that reinforces some faith in Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. This celebration sends a positive message to society." Click here to watch the video.
We conducted a keyword search across YouTube and came across a report of the incident by R TV News uploaded on April 24, 2022. In this video, at 3.16, the bank cluster head says, "All festivals such as Hanuman Jayanti, Holi, Diwali are celebrated."
At 4:40 in the video, the bank manager can be heard saying, "Such programs have been held in our bank routinely The pandemic has delayed when we used to hold these programs routinely. For us, connecting with our customers is the priority."
Dainik Bhaskar had also published a report in April 2022, which stated that the iftar party held in the bank had angered members of the Bajrang Dal. They demanded an inquiry into the matter and had threatened to forcefully have the Hanuman Chalisa recited. The report quotes the bank cluster head who says that every year the bank employees celebrate the festival of Hanuman Jayanti, Holi, Diwali and every Hindu festival along with Muslim festivals such as Roza Iftar.
We also came across this Aaj Tak report which quoted the bank manager Zaheer Abbas, stating that such an event has been organized there every year. He said that in the last two years this could not happen due to Covid-19, but this time it was done because iftar is considered good in Islam.
Fact Check website Alt News contacted a senior bank official of the HDFC Barabanki branch who told them that all other religious celebrations were also held in the bank and customers from all faiths are invited in it.
It is evident from media reports and the employees of HDFC, the Roza iftar was organised in April 2022 to foster the Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. Members of all religions participated in the celebrations. The Barabanki branch celebrates religious festivals of the Hindu religion such as Hanuman Jayanti, Holi, and Diwali along with Islamic festivals such as Iftar. The events have been organized there every year. However, it hadn't taken place in the last two years due to Covid-19. Hence, the viral claim is false.
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