Old video of India boat mishap falsely shared as Karachi mayor photo-op fail


An old video of an Indian mayor and his companions falling into a creek as their boat toppled over resurfaced in May 2024 in social media posts that falsely claimed it showed Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui, the mayor of Karachi in Pakistan. The clip is from 2016 and shows Surendra Furtado, then-mayor of the western Indian city of Panaji, with local journalists and officials who took a tumble when their weed-cleaning boat capsized.

“Scenes from the sinking of the Titanic witnessed during a patrol of Gujjar Nala by Murtaza Wahab and KMC (Karachi Metropolitan Corporation) officials,” read an Urdu-language Facebook post that shared the video on May 2.

The Gujjar Nala is a natural drain in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city which counts Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui as mayor and is the capital of southern Sindh province.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which rules the province,  has overseen a project since 2007 to clean up the waterway clogged by waste and lined with encroachments (archived link).

The operation has long been a contentious issue among residents following the demolition of homes.

The Facebook post jokingly dubbed the sinking vessel seen in the video “the Bhutto Titanic”, referring to Pakistan’s ex-leader and PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

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Screenshot of the false post, taken on May 29, 2024

Karachi, a seaside metropolis of more than 20 million people, is crumbling under the weight of decaying infrastructure, fuelling discontent and a lack of trust in the federal and provincial governments.

The monsoon season is felt hardest in the city, where clogged drains and culverts causes widespread flooding.

The video was shared in similar posts on Facebook, social media platform X and YouTube which falsely claimed it showed Karachi’s mayor falling into the Gujjar Nala.

Some social media users appeared to believe that false claim.

“This is divine justice. He who stole Karachi’s mandate and was installed as mayor got a taste of Karachi’s sewerage and refuse firsthand,” one commented.

“That’s where they belong,” another wrote.

However, the footage in fact shows the mayor of the Indian city of Panaji.

Photo-op gone wrong

A reverse image search of keyframes on Google found a Reddit post from 2016 titled: “Panaji Mayor Surendra Furtado falls into sewage-laced water after boat capsizes – [P]R stunt goes wrong” (archived link).

Keyword searches found a video of the incident posted on India Today’s YouTube channel on June 27, 2016 (archived link).

The video is titled: “Photo-Op Of Panaji Mayor Ends Up In Sewage Caught On Camera” (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of video shared on social media (left) and posted on YouTube by India Today (right).

<span>Screenshot comparison of video shared on social media (left) and India Today's footage (right)</span><span><button

Screenshot comparison of video shared on social media (left) and India Today’s footage (right)

The footage shows Panaji’s then-mayor Surendra Furtado capsizing on a weeding machine that he was unveiling to local media on the St Inez Creek.

Local media widely reported on the mishap, dubbed a “major embarrassment” for the mayor (archived link).

Furtado confirmed to AFP for a similar fact check that he was the man in the video.

“I had gone for an inspection of a newly-introduced weeding machine,” he told AFP in 2018.

“The vessel lost its balance and we took a tumble. Nobody was injured.”

Wahab Siddiqui clarified in an X post on April 30 that he was not in the video (archived link).



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