Bangladesh Hindu Unity Council, a minority organisation of the country, has flagged the Twitter handle @UnityCouncilBD that claims to represent it as fake, The Wire reported. This Twitter handle has been posting images and videos of the recent violence during Durga puja in Bangladesh.
The account was being cited in several news reports, including Indian news websites like India Today, The Print, Times Now, Scroll, and OpIndia and international publications such as The Guardian. These news publications have referred to information on the Twitter account and also used its photos and tweets in their news reports despite the BHUC flagging it as a fake account a long while ago.
The account is currently unavailable and there are no profiles with the same handle on other social media platforms.
With over 27,000 followers, the @UnityCouncilBD Twitter handle, created in in January 2021, was verified by the platform. It had only 386 tweets, as per The Wire report.
The website linked to the Twitter handle led to a prominent minority civil society organisation called Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC) rather than the BHUC.
Notably, months prior to the current violent situation, the BHBCUC’s official Facebook page too had posted a screenshot of the @UnityCouncilBD Twitter handle in July to bring to the notice of its followers that the account was fake.
“This Twitter Account is a fake account. Above account claiming to be the official Twitter account of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council is totally false. This is for information of all concerned that Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council has no connection with this Twitter account. Further, be noted that we have officially complained to the Govt, BTRC in the matter,” the post read.
In the screenshot, the bio of the @UnityCouncilBD Twitter handle can be seen to read: “Official Twitter Account of (Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council). Struggling for the basic rights of Minorities in Bangladesh #StandForSecularBD”
As per The Wire, the Twitter account in question had tagged the official accounts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in several of its tweets.
On Monday, the fact-check website AltNews debunked a video shared by the Twitter handle as proof of the ongoing communal violence in Bangladesh. The video was actually one from Tripura that was falsely shared as one from Bangladesh. AltNews also mentioned that the Twitter account’s earlier username was @HinduarmysUnity.
During Durga puja, the biggest Bengali festival, earlier this month, communal violence broke out in parts of Cumilla and Noakhali districts in Bangladesh on October 13 (the eighth day of the puja) after allegations of the Quran being disrepected in one of the Durga puja pandals.
By October 15 (the final day of the puja), severe violence spread across the country, with several pandals and Hindu temples getting vandalised and resulting in the death of at least seven.