Old clip of police hitting women falsely linked to Ramadan aid scheme in Pakistan's Punjab province

Posts criticising a Ramadan food handout scheme in Pakistan's Punjab province in March 2024 repeatedly shared a video with a false claim it showed a police officer hitting women who were lining up for wheat flour. The clip, however, previously circulated online since June 2019 in posts about an officer violently attempting to remove women from their shops near a Punjab court.

Warning: Story includes clip that shows police hitting women

The clip -- which showed a policeman hitting the back of a woman's head and slapping another --  was shared on Facebook on March 19, 2024 by Pakistani legislator Junaid Akbar Khan. It was viewed over 14,000 times.

Khan is a member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan.

In the post, the legislator touted a newly launched medical insurance programme in his Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province while falsely claiming the video showed a police officer in Punjab beating a woman trying to receive food under the province's Ramadan food handout programme (archived links here and here).

Northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province is governed by candidates linked to PTI, while Punjab is ruled by the party's bitter rival -- the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The Urdu-language caption to the clip translated as: "While the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government is providing free medical treatment up to one million rupees with dignity to its people, women are being humiliated and slapped in Punjab for a 10-kilogram sack of wheat flour. May Allah humiliate those who have destroyed my country and humiliated the nation."

<span>A screenshot taken on March 28, 2024, of the false Facebook post.</span>
A screenshot taken on March 28, 2024, of the false Facebook post.

Some one million families in Punjab have received food packages under the province's Ramadan food handout programme. The package included wheat flour, rice, sugar, lentils, dates, cooking oil, dates and other goods, according to state media (archived link).

The video was also shared alongside a similar false claim here, here and here on Facebook and here, here and here on social media platform X.

Comments to the posts indicated people were misled about the video.

"This is the latest misdeed of the PML-N government," wrote one Facebook user. 

"Curse on these police," said another.

Old assault video

However, there were no official reports about a police officer hitting women lining up for wheat flour in Punjab recently.

A Google reverse image search using a keyframe from the video actually found it corresponds to a portion of a longer clip posted on YouTube on June 23, 2019 -- years before this year's Ramadan food handout scheme started (archived link).

The video falsely shared online matches from the six-second to the 24-second mark of the longer YouTube clip titled: "Punjab Police Torture On Women Multan Kacheri [Court]."

The incident was also reported here in an Urdu-language report by Pakistani newspaper the Daily Jang on June 27, 2019 (archived link).

The report's headline translates to English as: "The police officer who used violence against women at district court has been summoned". The report said the police officer "tortured" and used violence against the women in an attempt to remove them from their shops, which were located near the district court in Multan.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video falsely shared as recent (left) and the YouTube clip (right):

<span>A screenshot comparison of keyframes from the video in the misleading posts (left) and the YouTube video (right).</span>
A screenshot comparison of keyframes from the video in the misleading posts (left) and the YouTube video (right).

AFP previously debunked posts that shared the same clip in 2019 alongside a false claim it showed Indian soldiers torturing women in Kashmir (archived link).

April 4, 2024 Corrected figure in sixth paragraph to "one million rupees"