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Image of 2012 Nirbhaya protest incorrectly linked to Manipur violences

Image from a protest held in Delhi demanding justice for the Nirbhaya rape case in 2012 were misrepresented as a protest against Manipur violence.

(Trigger Warning: This story contains mentions of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.)

A video from May of a mob sexually assaulting two women in Manipur surfaced on social media last week, drawing condemnation nationwide with protests held in multiple cities. On July 22, a fan account of an Indian soap actor posted a series of pictures of people protesting in New Delhi with the claim that these protests were held against sexual assault in Manipur.

Of the four images shared in the post, three images show water cannons being used on protestors, and another one shows people standing on a bus surrounded by massive crowds. The post       had 17,400 views and 157 likes while writing this story. The same images were being shared on Facebook as well. 

However, the images are old. They are from protests held after the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case.

In Fact
Through a reverse image search, we found that images predate Manipur violence. The first image where two water cannons were sprayed on protestors was found in the Reuters photo gallery. It was captioned, "Police use water cannons to disperse demonstrators near the presidential palace during a protest rally in New Delhi December 22, 2012. Indian police used batons, tear gas, and water cannon to turn back thousands of people marching on the presidential palace on Saturday in intensifying protests against the gangrape of a woman on the streets and on social media." Reuters has posted many other images from the 2012 protests.

The second image of police personnel standing near barricades and police vans using water cannons was found in a New York Times report published on December 22, 2012. The image was captioned, "The police used water cannons on demonstrators gathered in India's capital city on Saturday." The credit was given to Anindito Mukherjee, a photographer and European Pressphoto Agency. The reports also mention that on December 22, thousands of demonstrators gathered in New Delhi to demand justice and improved law enforcement in the gangrape case. 

Images of 2012 Nirbhaya protests falsely linked to Manipur violence

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The third image of people standing on the bus was found in a Times Now News report published in 2020, which included 11 images related to 2012 gangrape case. The caption to the image in the report states, "The brutal gang rape and torture of the paramedical student on December 16, 2012, called for a nationwide uproar." The credit for the image was given to BCCL.

The fourth image was found in a report by The News Minute published in 2020 about the protests over the Nirbhaya case. The protest was held against women's violence, changes in the law, and the status of the case. Therefore, it confirms the images are old and related to the Nirbhaya case.

On December 16, a 23-year-old woman was brutally assaulted and gangraped by six men inside a moving bus in Delhi, and succumbed to her injuries days later, triggering massive protests across the country.

On July 22, 2023, AP News reported that many protests were held across the country condemning the act of violence against two women in Manipur. We compared these protest visuals and none match the viral image.


The Verdict
Eleven-year-old images of protests over the Nirbhaya case have been misinterpreted as protests held against the Manipur viral video. Therefore, we rate this claim as false.


The viral video claimed to show "New India" was taken at least ten months ago in Colombia. We mark the claim false, as the video is unrelated to India. 

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