A video seemingly filmed on a flyover in Uttarakhand's Haridwar — in which a person can be heard saying that roads in the city are deserted with no human in sight — is being shared on social media to claim that it busts the claim of the Kumbh Mela being a potential “super spreader” of COVID-19.
The Quint analysed the said video and we found that it was shot approximately six kilometres away from the place where the holy dip takes place — the Har Ki Pauri Ghat. Further, several news reports estimate that approximately 31 lakh people are attending the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
A person in the the aforementioned video can be heard saying that "Haridwar is completely deserted, contrary to popular claims that 25 lakh devotees are visiting the city to attend the Kumbh fair".
This was shared on Twitter by Priti Gandhi — the national social media incharge of BJP's women's wing with a claim which reads: "Entire propaganda about the Kumbh Mela being a Super Spreader of COVID-19 is falling flat on its face. Do watch this video to see the REAL SITUATION on ground in Haridwar."
WHAT WE FOUND
We analysed the video frame by frame and 49 seconds into it, found a board reading ‘Hotel Ganges Park’ on one of the buildings.
We looked up the hotel on Google Maps and found that it is indeed in Haridwar. Next, we searched for the distance between the said hotel and the Har ki Pauri Ghat where crowds gather for the holy dip.
As per Google Maps, the distance between the place where the viral video was shot and where the devotees had gathered (Har Ki Pauri) ranges between 4.6 km (on foot) to 6.7 km (via car).
Next, we reached out to the manager of ‘Hotel Ganges Park’, who confirmed to us that the video has been recorded from a flyover near his hotel, which is a little away from the place where people gather for the dip in the morning.
"“The video was probably shot after 3 pm and most of the people go for the holy dip in the morning. Further, the flyover is empty because people have to leave their vehicles at a point and after that they take mini buses. There is a lot of crowd and this video seems to be made with a malicious intent.”" - Manish Malik, Manager, Hotel Ganges View
He further confirmed that people have gathered at the fair in lakhs.
NEWS ESTIMATES REPORT A GATHERING OF 31 LAKH
Various news reports mention that approximately 31 lakh people are attending the Kumbh fair this year in Haridwar.
The Quint also got in touch with Madhu Joshi, a local journalist, who attended the fair and he confirmed to us that there was a massive crowd in Haridwar. He also sent us images from the Har Ki Pauri Ghat clicked on 14 April.
This video by The Quint also establishes the huge crowds of devotees gathered in Haridwar to participate in the fair.
As on 15 April, Haridwar reported 525 new cases of coronavirus and two deaths, with 3,000 active cases. In the past five days, Haridwar has seen 2,167 news cases being registered.
Clearly, a misleading video is being shared on the internet to claim that contrary to what is being shown in news reports, devotees are NOT gathering in Haridwar for the Kumbh Mela.
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