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Fact Check: Video Of A Man Defacing Murals At Lord Hanuman Temple In Gujarat Goes Viral With False Claims

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A video showing a man rubbing ink on the murals and attacking them with an axe before being overpowered by police has gone viral on social media. Many users claim that a man from the Muslim community attempted to destroy the statue, giving a communal spin.

A Facebook user shared this video and wrote: “हिन्दूओं के आराध्य भगवान श्री हनुमान जी की प्रतिमा को खंडित करता एक इस्लामिक मुस्लिम। यह सब अपने वोट के लालची नेताओं और कमजोर न्याय व्यवस्था / न्यायलयों की देन है । वर्ना शायद ही भारत में ऐसी हिम्मत कर सके। हिन्दू समाज को नपुंसकता और कायरता छोडनी पडेगी ,अपनी सुरक्षा के इंतजाम खुद करने पड़ेंगे। सरकार, प्रशासन, पुलिस, न्यायालय यह सब सिर्फ दिखावे की है। बल मे बल अपना बल।” [English translation: An Islamic Muslim destroying the statue of Lord Hanuman, the revered Hindu god. All this is the result of politicians, greedy for their votes and weak judicial system/courts. Otherwise one would hardly dare to do such a thing in India. Hindu society will have to give up impotence and cowardice and make its own security arrangements. Government, administration, police, court, all this is just for show. Strength within strength, our strength.]

This Facebook post can be seen here.

It is being widely shared on Facebook and X with similar claims.

FACT CHECK

NewsMobile fact-checked the above claim, and found it to be false.

Running the keyframes of the video through Reverse Image Search, our team found a report by News18 dated September 3, 2023, with similar footage. According to the report, the viral incident took place in the Botad district of Gujarat. Police have arrested three persons for damaging and defacing a mural depicting Lord Hanuman kneeling before Sahajanand Swami, a saint of the Swaminarayan sect. The accused were identified as Harshad Gadhvi, Jaisingh Bharwad and Baldev Bharwad. As the name suggests, all the accused belong to the Hindu community.

Even the Superintendent of Police, Kishore Baloliya, said that Harshad Gadhvi had come to the spot with his two associates. A few months back, the temple management had installed a 54-foot idol of Lord Hanuman in the temple premises. Its plinth wall is covered with frescoes, of which at least two frescoes have caused controversy, showing Lord Hanuman kneeling before Sahajanand Swami. Prima facie, Gadhvi crossed the barricade and reached the statue and damaged the frescoes and blackened it.

Image Credit: News18

A report by The Wire, dated September 05, 2023, carrying a still of the viral video, says  that Harshad Gadhvi, a man who defaced murals depicting the deity Hanuman in a Gujarat temple, was released from judicial custody on bail.

Therefore, we can conclusively say that the man in the viral video does not belong to the Muslim community and no communal angle was involved in this case.

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