A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook and Twitter posts in December 2020 alongside a claim it shows damage that protetsing farmers inflicted on food stalls while protesting over new agriculture laws. The claim is false; the photo has circulated online since May 2020 in reports about the Covid-19 lockdown in India.
The photo was published on Facebook on December 8, 2020. The post has been shared more than 2,600 times.
Screenshot of misleading Facebook post
The post’s Hindi-language caption translates to English as: “This is how the traitors hidden in the guise of farmers ensured Bharat Band. They should have thought, at least once, that someone in the house of these poor vegetable-sellers would be hungry and waiting for food in the evening.”
Bharat Band refers to an effort by various farmers groups to observe a country-wide shutdown on December 8, 2020. The strike was held during ongoing demonstrations by farmers who are protesting against new agriculture laws.
The claim, however, is false.
A reverse image search on Google found the photo was posted here on Twitter on May 5, 2020. It was published by Surendra Rajput, a politician in Indian National Congress party, about seven months before the farmers’ protests began.
“The alcohol shops are being opened under police protection while the vegetable shops are being destroyed. What a rule,” the Hindi tweet reads in English.
Rajput posted the tweet following the government’s decision to allow shops selling alcohol to remain open during the country’s Covid-19 lockdown in early May.
The photo was also shared on Facebook here and Twitter here in posts published between July and September 2020.
The signs in the photo are written in Bangla, the primary language in the West Bengal. The second photo shared by the Congress politician also shows a vehicle with a license plate that begins with WB — the standard beginning for plates in West Bengal.
A further search found that the photo was also published in May 2020 on Facebook here, here and here. The posts identify the location of the photo as the Pioneer Market in the West Bengal town of Barasat.