The ongoing Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand's Haridwar has been the center of controversy over violations of COVID-19 protocols amid a record spike in new cases in India. With record-high cases of over 2 lakh being reported in India, a religious congregation of such a scale has drawn widespread criticism on social media. Amidst all this, a viral video has been making the rounds on social media, claiming that the Haridwar ghats are nearly empty contrary to what is being reported by the media.

The claim

A viral video that appeared to have been shot from a moving car shows empty ghats along the Ganga river and empty streets. The voice in the video claims that no crowd can be seen anywhere in the city on the occasion of the third Shahi Snan (royal bath) on April 14.

Haridwar ghat empty

The person in the video claims that no one has turned for the Kumbh Mela. The video captures a conversation between two persons in the video as they drive by the banks of river Ganga. At one point in the video, one person asks what date it is, to which the other says April 14. The other person adds that a crowd of 25 lakh had been expected for April 14 event, which is the third Shahi Snan, but not even 2500 turned up to the city.

The video was widely shared on social media by users who called out national media reports, showing the contrary. Even some verified handles posted the video and claimed it to be the real situation on the ground.

Fact check

International Business Times reviewed the claims made in the viral video about empty Haridwar ghats. Upon close inspection of the video, it was clear that the video was shot from a different location and the reason behind the empty ghats could be explained.

Watching the video frame by frame shows a restaurant by the name Hotel Ganges Park. Using Google Maps, we were able to put the location from where the video was shot to Har Ki Pauri at approximately 5-6 km.

Hardiwar video

Har Ki Pauri is the most important bathing ghats in Haridwar, which attracts hundreds and thousands of people who take a dip in the river. The general public is allowed to take a dip in Ganga at Har Ki Pauri before 7 a.m. or after 5 p.m., whereas the rest of the time is only accessible for the members of the akharas.

Har ki pauri

Speaking to Boom Live, the manager of the Hotel Ganges Park confirmed that the video was shot away from Har Ki Pauri and the reason behind empty streets is possibly due to the fact that vehicles from outside are not allowed in the city.

Contradicting the claims made in the viral video, several media reports and videos from Har Ki Pauri have shown massive crowds taking a dip in the river. According to reports, more than 1,700 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Haridwar Kumbh Mela area from April 10 to April 14. At least 30 sadhus have also tested positive and one has died from the virus infection.

Live video feeds from Haridwar on Doordarshan National's YouTube channel on April 14 shows massive crowds participating in the festivities and devotees in huge number bathing at the ghats in Haridwar.

Based on all these pieces of evidence, IBTimes has arrived at the conclusion that the claims made in the viral video are misleading.

Claim reviewed :

Fact check: Empty ghats of Haridwar viral video is misleading [truth here]

Fact Check :