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Fake Fact or Fiction Episode 7 | Was an army officer killed by Kashmiris as claimed on social media?

Claim: A video was shared widely on WhatsApp and other social media platforms, claiming to be of an Indian soldier been assaulted and killed by Kashmiris.

Source: Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

What Happened: A video has been circulating on different WhatsApp groups claiming that a 'jawan' (Indian army soldier) was beaten up and killed by an angry mob in Kashmir on the 12th of May, 2018.

The forward has a video of a soldier being violently assaulted, while another person is seen trying to protect the fallen soldier from the mob. The message in Hindi translates to: 'Today in Kashmir one more soldier was beaten to death. Only true sons of their mother will share this. Friends on the basis of humanity I ask you with folded hands to share this video as much as possible and in every group so that by tomorrow evening every news channel shows this.'

This video, with an identical narrative, has been shared extensively on Facebook and YouTube. The links to these posts have also been shared on Twitter.

Facts: The video in question is far from a recent one, and was actually filmed last year, in October 2017, to be precise. The army man was attacked by a mob on the suspicion of being a braid chopper. Kashmir was subject to a spate of braid cutting incidents last year, which generated a great deal of fear, anger, and resentment, and led to quite a few instances of vigilante justice. This particular incident took place in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district. Unlike what the Whatsapp forward claims, no one was killed in this incident, as the police were able to rescue the soldier from the mob.

The exact same video was aired by Times now. It was aired on several Youtube channels on the 17th October 2017.

In order to find the origin of this video, we ran it in slow motion and were able to see army personnel in the mob. We also saw a person stop a protester from hitting the fallen army soldier with a stone. A news search revealed no such incident had taken place in J&K in the past few months, so we extended our time line and ran a search for 'Army Soldier Beaten In Kashmir' for the entirety of last year.

Via this search we found a news piece by Times Now News. We then specifically searched YouTube for 'Army soldier beaten in Kashmir for braid chopping in Kupwara', which gave us a substantial list of videos from this incident. Among these, we found a video with identical images that was uploaded to YouTube on the 17th of October. 2017

Conclusion: This video is yet another exemplar of a dangerous and rapidly increasing trend on social media, adding a false narrative to real events and then circulating them, particularly via WhatsApp groups. Users in India tend to have an inbuilt sense of trust for these sorts of group-based messages, especially if they have a nationalist overtone, and will more often than not re-share them through their own social media profiles, which explains why this particular video was shared so widely on Facebook independently, and not as a specific post from one particular account, which is more often the case. Metafact has already debunked a number of these Real Video/False Narrative forwards, and will continue to do so as and when they emerge.


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