By: Rahul Adhikari
April 10 2023
A video of a Ram Navami procession from Kashmir has been misrepresented as an example of a celebration of the festival in Pakistan.
On March 30, clashes erupted between two groups during a Ram Navami procession in West Bengal's Howrah district, leading to the restriction of movement with the imposition of Section 144 in the Shibpur and Kazipara areas of the district. Additionally, other incidents of violence during processions taken out on the Hindu festival of Ram Navami, which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, were reported in various parts of India, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
In the aftermath of such communal violence, a video has been doing the rounds on social media claiming to show a Ram Navami procession in Pakistan. The video shows a procession moving down a road guarded by police officials. Several users shared the video on Facebook, claiming that it was captured in the Muslim-majority country of Pakistan. The caption of one such post read, "Ram Navami is safe in Pakistan and not safe in India, what does it mean, ??? Hindus are in danger only in Hindu majority country India."
The viral video features a logo, VOA, in the top left corner, and Urdu appears throughout the video. Based on this information, we found that the video was published by VOA Urdu on March 30, 2023. VOA Urdu is a part of the Voice of America news network, which is headquartered in the United States. The news organization uploaded the video to Twitter and wrote in Urdu, "In Indian-administered Kashmir on Thursday, Kashmiri Pandits took out a procession amid tight security arrangements, which reached its destination through various places in Srinagar. Kashmiri Pandits take out this procession called 'Shobha Yatra' every year on the occasion of one of their religious festivals. Zubair Dar reports." The video was also shared on the VOA Urdu Facebook page with the same caption.
According to a report by The Hindu on March 30, a religious procession called ‘Shobha Yatra’ was carried out by the Kashmiri Pandit community in Srinagar to commemorate Ram Navami. The report carried a photograph taken by the news agency PTI of the procession, featuring four children dressed up as Hindu mythical characters revered by many, Ram, Lakshman, Sita, and Hanuman, also seen in the viral video. The report said that Kashmiri Pandits organized a procession and dressed up in colorful clothes to celebrate the festival and take part in the 'Shoba Yatra' in Srinagar.
We found a similar video on the news outlet Greater Kashmir's YouTube channel on March 30. The title of the video indicated that the Kashmiri Pandit community took out a procession in Srinagar to celebrate Ram Navami. In this video, too, the same children dressed up as Ram, Lakshman, Sita, and Hanuman were seen sitting on the chariot. Therefore, the video clearly shows Kashmir and not Pakistan, as claimed on social media.
A video of a Ram Navami procession from Kashmir was falsely shared, claiming to show 'safe' Ram Navami celebrations in Pakistan. The rally, known as ‘Shobha Yatra,’ took place on March 30 false.