Fact Check: Delhi Buses at the Centre of Conspiracy Theory Were Not Burnt

A video of policemen pouring a liquid on two buses was shared to allege that the police may have been involved in the bus burning. It turns out, however, that the two buses were not burnt at all.

New Delhi: Videos of policemen pouring liquids on two buses have been doing the rounds on social media, with several people including Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia alleging that it could mean the police was involved in burning buses during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests.

However, it turns out that the buses in the viral video were not the same as the buses burnt on Sunday.

The three buses that were torched belonged to the Delhi Transport Corporation. DTC public relations officer R.S. Minhas said two non-air-conditioned green buses, whose registration number ended with 1509 and 8334, were burnt. One red air-conditioned bus was also burnt. Its registration number ended in 9937.

In addition to the DTC buses, photographs of the incident show one Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS) orange cluster bus on fire. The registration number of that bus is not clearly visible, and the DIMTS spokesperson The Wire spoke to was not able to confirm this either.

Back to the videos – there are two separate videos that are being shared to support the conspiracy theory that the police was involved in the burning but later blamed protestors.

In one video, a policeman is seen pouring a liquid out of a Bisleri water bottle on an orange cluster bus with a registration number ending in 5299. In the other, a man in a firefighter’s uniform was seen carrying a yellow can outside an orange cluster bus and throwing something from it on the bus, the registration number of which ended in 0299.

It is now clear that neither of these buses was burnt during Sunday’s protests.

During the violence, one green DTC bus was set ablaze on Mathura Road. Another bus, a red air-conditioned one, was set on fire on Mata Mandir road, near B block of New Friends Colony. The third DTC bus, a non-AC green bus, was burnt near Bharat Nagar. Several channels have shows videos or eyewitness accounts of the buses being burnt.

Conspiracy video on buses at Julena Crossing

The video used to accuse the police of pouring a possible inflammable liquid on a bus was shot at Julena Crossing, which leads to Holy Family Hospital and further to Jamia Milia Islamia University. It shows two vandalised orange cluster buses near the crossing. The video starts with an image of a burning vehicle and one man rushing towards it and dousing the blaze with a fire extinguisher.

The camera then pans towards the two buses. One person is seen walking towards one of them with a yellow open can and pouring a liquid inside the first bus, whose number ended with 0299. Many took to social media to insist that not only did this man pour an inflammable substance on the bus, but that another man, shown in a video shot through the bus window, was also pouring a similar liquid inside the other vehicle. The registration number of this second bus ended with 5299.

Later, this second person (who was seen sprinkling the liquid) told a news channel that he was a policeman, and was just pouring water from a bottle. He also insisted that the bus in which he had poured water was intact and had not been set on fire.

His statement has been verified by The Wire. The bus whose registration number ends in 5299 was vandalised and its windows broken, but it was not burnt. Seva Nagar Bus Depot officials confirmed to The Wire that 5299 is currently being repaired at the depot.

An Aaj Tak report also confirmed that 0299 was not burnt. While there was a small fire on one of the seats, it was set out by the police.

Neither of the two orange buses parked at Julena Crossing were set on fire on Sunday.

Sisodia, others suspected foul play by Delhi police, BJP

The incident led to several citizens and even politicians like Aam Aadmi Party’s Manish Sisodia floating the theory that the Delhi police may have been involved in the vandalism and arson.

Sisodia tweeted that this could be the “biggest proof” of BJP’s “pathetic politics”.

He was alleging that the Delhi police, which reports to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, was being used by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to foment trouble in Delhi.

However, the Delhi police denied any wrongdoing or mischief. Its chief spokesperson, M.S. Randhawa, was quoted by NDTV as saying, “You must see the whole video. There was fire outside the bus…police was using the water to douse the fire.”

Deputy commissioner of police, South East Delhi, Chinmoy Biswal, under whom the area falls, also insisted that the police had no role to play in the arson.

He reacted to Sisodia’s allegation by saying that “nothing can be farther from the truth”.