Video of Pakistani protestors uprooting saplings go viral with a radical Islamic spin

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 9 launched the country’s largest tree plantation campaign, that saw a record 3.5 million saplings being planted in a single day. A video from Pakistan showing a large group of people including children uprooting the newly planted trees is viral on social media with a claim that “planting trees is against Islam”.

The caption to one such video uploaded by a verified user on Twitter reads, “Imran Khan copied PM Shri Modi’s ‘Tree Plantation Drive’ in Pakistan but his followers uprooted all trees because they feel “Planting trees is against Islam”.

India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim is misleading. The locals in the video are uprooting the trees because the administration had planted them on a disputed private land without their permission.

The claim is also viral on Facebook.

The archived versions of the viral post can be seen here, here and here.

AFWA probe
When we did a Google search using the keywords “Pakistan” and “uprooting trees”, we found that a number of media houses in India and Pakistan have reported the incident which took place on August 9.

According to “The News International”, an English news daily in Pakistan, the incident happened at Pakistan’s Khyber’s Mandi Kass district. As per the report, the crowd was protesting against the government’s move to plant trees on a disputed land without their permission.

The protesters reportedly uprooted over 6,000 new trees planted by the administration.

To get more details regarding the incident, AFWA contacted a local journalist from Mandi Kass who belongs to the Urdu Newspaper Akhbar-e-Khaber.

Under conditions of anonymity, the local reporter said, “The land where the dispute happened is a 50 acres private land and its ownership dispute lies between a local tribe named Shahi Khel and a local influential Malik Muhammad Ali who belongs to Afridi Tribe. Muhammad Ali had sought a stay order from the court before the plantation was done but the trees were still planted with the approval of the Shahi tribe. That’s why the trees were uprooted by the people of Afridi tribe. An FIR was registered immediately against 10 people while 5 of them were arrested.”

AFWA also contacted an Islamic scholar to understand what Islam says about nature conservation.

Abdus Samad, Assistant professor at the department of Islamic studies at Osmania University Hyderabad said, “No religion is against nature. Also, the plantation drive is not a novel idea. Fourteen centuries ago, the Prophet has asked us to plant a tree even if it is our last deed.”

Hence the claim that people from Pakistan are uprooting trees because Islam is against tree plantation is false. The people were protesting against the government’s decision to plant trees on a land which is disputed.