Staged videos fuel religious hate and misogyny in India

In a video shared and watched by millions of people in India, a man is seen attacking a person who is wearing a black burka and holding a child. He then forcibly removes the burka to reveal a man.

The message accompanying the clip warns in Hindi that people should “be aware” of criminals using the burka – a veil used by Muslim women around the world – to disguise themselves and “kidnap children”.

The video, published on YouTube earlier this year, has been viewed more than 29 million times before it was deleted.

But it did not show real events. It was a dramatisation – a scripted performance with amateur actors.

Scripted videos, apparently created for entertainment, are increasingly being shared on social media as true events in India. Often accompanying the videos are false claims that stoke religious hatred and misogyny.

India has witnessed growing tension among religious communities, particularly between Hindus and Muslims, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May 2014. Many of the false narratives that target these communities also encourage moral policing against women.

Read more: BBC News