Video of man vandalizing murals at Gujarat temple shared with false communal spin

By: Ankita Kulkarni
September 21 2023

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Video of man vandalizing murals at Gujarat temple shared with false communal spin

Online posts falsely claim that a Muslim was caught vandalizing a temple. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The three men accused in the case are all Hindus, confirmed the police. There is no communal angle to the incident.

Claim ID 20297aac

What’s the claim?

A video, which shows a man defacing and vandalizing several murals on the walls of the pedestal of a huge statue, is being shared with a claim that a Muslim man vandalized a temple in Karnataka. One Facebook post (archive here), viewed over 1.6 million times at the time of publishing, shared the video with the same claim and the hashtags “#karnatakasuddi #hinduism #muslim #bangalore.”

Other archived links to similar posts can be viewed here and here.

Screenshots of claims made online. (Source: Facebook/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, we found that the claims made online are false. 

  • Firstly, the video is from Gujarat’s Botad district and not Karnataka.

  • Secondly, the man in question has been identified as one Harshad Gadhvi. He is not Muslim.

What are the facts?

On conducting a reverse image search on a screenshot from the viral video, we came across a post from September 2 shared by online portal DeshGujarat on X (formerly Twitter). The post carried the same viral clip, and the accompanying caption read: “Distortion of Hanuman Ji by Vadtal branch of Swaminarayan sect in Salangpur: An agitated Hindu man applies black paint over controversial murals, and attacks them with a stick. Police have nabbed him.”

Screenshot of DeshGujarat’s post. (Source: X/Screenshot)

We then came across a news report published by The Indian Express on September 4. The report mentioned that three people were arrested for allegedly vandalizing and defacing the murals depicting Hindu deity Hanuman sitting at the feet of Lord Swaminarayan at Shree Kashtabhanjandev Hanumanji Mandir in Botad district’s Salangpur.

The murals were placed on the walls of the pedestal of the 54-foot-tall statue of Hanuman in the temple. The depiction resulted in a controversy, which snowballed into a larger dispute between the Swaminarayan sect, which manages the temple, and other Hindu outfits in Gujarat, reported The Hindu. 

Speaking to Logically Facts, Kishore Balolia, Superintendent of Police (SP), Botad, identified the man in the video as Harshad Gadhvi. “The man was caught by security people present at Kashtabhanjandev Temple. We arrested him after receiving a complaint from the temple authorities,” Balolia said.

The First Information Report (FIR) filed in the matter, accessed by Logically Facts, identified the three accused as— Harshad Gadhvi, Jaisinh Bharwad, and Baldev Bharwad. The FIR noted that they were booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 427 ( damage to property), 295A (outraging religious beliefs), 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion, race), and 120B (criminal conspiracy). The FIR mentions that while Gadhvi vandalized the murals, the other two filmed his actions. SP Balolia said that all three accused are Hindus.

Sahal Qureshi, a Gujarat-based journalist, confirmed the same details and added that the incident occurred around 11:30am on September 2 when Gadhvi entered the temple and was seen defacing and vandalizing the murals. The Hindu reported that Gadhvi, who was caught on camera smearing a black pigment and hitting the murals with an axe, was released on bail on September 4.

As confirmed by the police, media reports, and a local journalist, the man seen in the viral video is Hindu and not Muslim.

The verdict

The video of a man defacing murals of Lord Hanuman at a Gujarat temple has been shared with a false communal angle. Contrary to social media posts, all three men accused in the case are Hindus. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false. 

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