English, Fake News

This vegetable vendor who hired bouncers to guard tomatoes is a Samajwadi Party worker. He did this as an act of protest


In the wake of skyrocketing tomato prices across the country, a photo of a vegetable vendor in Varanasi who allegedly hired bouncers to prevent customers from touching and stealing tomatoes has gone viral on social media. A social media post that shares this picture credits PTI as the source of this information. Let’s check the veracity of this photo and its claim through this article.

Claim: A vegetable vendor in Varanasi hired bouncers to protect tomatoes from getting stolen.

Fact: The person in this photo is Ajay Fauji, who, as per reports, is a Samajwadi Party worker. He hired bouncers to stage a protest against the rising prices of tomatoes. PTI covered Ajay’s story and later retracted it by saying they did not properly check the motives of Ajay behind giving them this information. Hence, the claim made in the post is Misleading.

We searched the internet with relevant keywords to learn more about the viral photo. This search led us to various news reports (here and here) that validated the part of the claim that a vegetable vendor in Varanasi hired bouncers to prevent confrontation at his stall in the context of rising tomato prices. But further research revealed that it’s just one side of the coin, and the story has more to it.

We learned that PTI tweeted on 09 July 2023, about them running the same story, which they retracted later. 

In their tweet, PTI said, ‘Earlier today, PTI tweeted a story about a vegetable vendor in Varanasi hiring bouncers in light of the high price of tomatoes. It has since come to our notice that the vendor is a worker of the Samajwadi Party, and his motive for giving us the information was questionable. We have, therefore, removed the tweet.’

Moreover, we also learnt that the UP Police had registered an FIR (No 0271, P.S-Lanka, Commissionerate Varanasi) under various sections against Ajay Fauji and two others. 

‘A vegetable shop owner, who had deployed bouncers to guard tomatoes in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi, and his son were arrested by the police on various charges including promoting hatred, enmity, or ill will between classes,Deccan Herald reported.

Ajay is absconding while the shopkeeper Raj Narayan Yadav and his son Vikas Yadav were arrested. 

Piyush Rai, a journalist with ‘The Quint,’ posted videos on Twitter in which Ajay was seen with the bouncers, associating himself with the Samajwadi Party. 

Piyush described it as a protest, and later, when the complaint was lodged against Ajay and the two others, he posted a copy of the FIR on his Twitter.

To sum up, a video of a Samajwadi party worker who hired a pair of bouncers as a mark of protest against rising tomato prices is being shared with a misleading narrative.


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