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Video claiming Punjab Chowrangi seal-off in Karachi is actually from Islamabad

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Claim: The Sindh Government directed law enforcement officers to seal off the Punjab Chowrangi area in Karachi due to a surge in COVID-19 cases
Fact: The video was filmed in Bara Kahu, an area in Islamabad, which was locked down last week by the administration after 11 new COVID-19 cases were detected. 

On 1 April 2020, ten days after the Chief Minister of Sindh announced a lockdown, a video began circulating on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook with captions claiming that the Punjab Chowrangi area in Karachi had been sealed due to a surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the vicinity. 

The video has a speech bubble edited onto it that says, “Karachi, Punjab Chowrangi has been sealed” while someone who seems to be in a military uniform is announcing that the area is going to be sealed upon the directives of the government. Soch reached out to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Karachi’s Southern District, Mr Irshad Sodhar, who is overseeing all COVID-19 related activities in the area to verify this claim. Sodhar stated that no such incident was reported in the area since the lockdown was announced. 

Upon further investigation, we found that the video was tweeted out as early as 23 March by a user who claimed it was filmed in Islamabad’s Bara Kahu area. In this video, a law enforcement officer can be heard saying “..Islamabad ki taraf jaana hai..” which roughly translates to “…[whoever] has to go towards Islamabad..” before proceeding to announce the lock-down.

Furthermore, another officer can be seen wearing the Islamabad Capital Territory Police uniform. This uniform comprises a light blue button-down shirt along with dark-blue pants. Compared to this, the Sindh Police uniform, on the other hand, comprises a black button-down shirt and khaki pants. 

Screengrab from the video in question

On the 23 of March, there were reports surfaced through reliable media organisations, stating that the Islamabad administration had enforced a lockdown within the Bara Kahu after at least 11 members of the Tablighi Jamaat, who were staying in a mosque in Bhara Kahu, tested positive for COVID-19. Bhara Kahu is located within an area called Kot Hathyal. An official of Islamabad police told SAMAA News that they were going to impose a full lock-down in Kot Hathyal because of this. 

The Tableeghi Jamaat is a global conservative Muslim missionary group that holds an annual five-day religious gathering which draws tens of thousands of Muslim preachers from 80 countries. The gathering, held on 11 March, was called off by the organisers late March 12 because of heavy rains. Around 250,000 people had gathered in Raiwind near Lahore to attend the ijtema and so far, multiple participants have tested positive for COVID-19. 

On 1 April 2020 Soch contacted the Islamabad Capital Territory police for a statement and spoke to Naveed Akhtar, Head Muharar of the Bara Kahu police station. Akhtar informed Soch he recognized the video recorded near the Bara Kahu police station at Athal Chowk in the Bara Kahu locality of Islamabad as one that he had come across before. He placed the video in the 23 March 2020 lockdown and clarified that the lockdown, although relaxed, was still ongoing.

Summary: The video of a lockdown announcement was not filmed in Karachi’s Punjab Chowrangi area, rather it is from Islamabad’s Bara Kahu area. On 23 March, the Islamabad administration enforced a lockdown in response to the detection of 11 COVID-19 cases in the vicinity. 


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