Indian student in Canada, viral for food bank video, sets record straight, debunks fake news about his ‘sacking’. Exclusive

Numerous hate messages have inundated Mehul Prajapati’s inbox with people asking him to be ‘careful’, how they will ‘track him down’ and the usual ‘go back to your country.

Misinformation spreads like wildfire thanks to social media and the story of Mehul Prajapati, an Indian student in Canada who was labelled a “thief” over a video, serves as a cautionary tale. Prajapati, 26, wanted to aid his fellow students by creating informational videos about his life in Canada. However, what began as a simple endeavour just two months back took a sinister turn when a single video catapulted him into a whirlwind of controversy, hate, and unjust accusations.


Prajapati’s ordeal commenced innocuously enough; a video showcasing how he accessed free food for students at his university got only 4,000 views and three comments from his modest 1500 followers on Instagram. The video was then downloaded and it spread like an inferno on other social media platforms like X and Reddit which bore an unexpected consequence – the branding of Prajapati as a “thief” and “freeloader”.

Hate messages inundated his inbox, and a wave of backlash ensued. Even more distressingly, rumours circulated that he had been terminated from his job at Canadian bank TD.

But as is often the case, reality proved far removed from the sensationalised narrative. In an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol, Prajapati set the record straight, armed with supporting documents to vindicate himself.

Contrary to the accusations, Prajapati was not pilfering from government-run food banks meant to aid the underprivileged.

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Rather, he was availing himself of a legitimate program provided by Wilfrid Laurier University, where he pursues his Master’s degree. The university’s initiative, in collaboration with LSPIRG and Martin Luther University College, offers free groceries to students facing food insecurity.

Prajapati’s involvement in the program was misconstrued, fuelling the online frenzy, even though in the video he never mentions government-run food banks – only his college.

The college website elucidates on the program. “LSPIRG and Martin Luther University College welcome you to our Free Weekly Distro program to combat food insecurity on campus. We provide free groceries and other essentials for Laurier and Luther students who need them,” it reads. The list also adds you must be a student of either college and have proper identification to avail this facility.

The catalyst for Prajapati’s ordeal stemmed from a social media user, @Slatzism, who amplified the misconceptions surrounding his video.

Despite the lack of verifiable evidence, @Slatzism’s actions led to unwarranted repercussions. The X user tracked down Prajapati’s Instagram and then LinkedIn where she found TD Bank on his profile and even went to the lengths of emailing the bank – Prajapati’s supposed employer – to get him “fired”. there is a catch. Prajapati was never an employee of the bank. He was an intern for 17 weeks at the bank – his college course requires him to do two mandatory internships – and his stint ended in December 2023. Moneycontrol has checked and verified the documents regarding his internship.

Neither did he get paid Canadian Dollars 98,000 (Rs 59 lakh), as claimed by @Slatzism who only looked for a median salary at the bank, nor was he even employed at TD. And clearly not fired. So why did TD Bank email @Slatzism saying he “no longer works at TD?” Because he does not.

The bank never mentions in its email that he was sacked; they merely mentioned the truth – he did not work there anymore. That too became fodder for @Slatzism who called him a “food bank bandit”, shared the email on X, and added that Prajapati was sacked.

In the wake of the controversy, Prajapati found himself besieged by threats and hostility, prompting him to retreat from social media and shut himself inside his home since Friday.

His college offered support and dismissed any accusations against him, and law enforcement advised caution, yet Prajapati’s anxiety persisted being all alone in a foreign country with no support system, exacerbated by the distance from his family in India.

Prajapati moved from Ahmedabad to Canada in 2022 for better educational prospects. But after the fixed cost of living increased in Canada, he had relied on jobs on campus to make ends meet. He pays $800 for a room shared with flatmates and he says he saves close to a $100 a month thanks to the college program that is availed by tonnes of students on campus.

He even volunteered at the college’s food programme and only wanted struggling students at his college to avail the benefits as cost of living in the country is not cheap.

He couldn’t even secure a bank loan in India to fund his education because he had no collateral and had to rely on family and relatives to loan him the money albeit with interest.

Moneycontrol spoke to Mehul’s brother in Ahmedabad, Rahul, who has been reaching out to people to help clear his brother’s name, who is thousands of kilometres away and suffering from anxiety and still unable to come back home immediately – because he fears for his safety.

For Prajapati, the ordeal exposed the perilous underbelly of social media, where misinformation can tarnish reputations and incite unwarranted vitriol.

Numerous hate messages, seen by Moneycontrol, have inundated Mehul’s inbox with people asking him to be “careful”, how they will “track him down” and the usual “go back to your country.”

A few of the hate messages Mehul Prajapati has been receiving in his inbox from Indians and Canadians. A few of the hate messages Mehul Prajapati has been receiving in his inbox from Indians and Canadians.

Mehul deactivated all his social media accounts to get away from the negativity and hate that all started on Friday on Reddit and soon became headlines on websites of major news websites across India.

“Hearing my phone notification would scare me. I stayed locked up at home for six days, worried about my safety and dealing with feeling alone and unsupported. Nobody seemed to want to hear my side; they just believed false things about me that ruined the reputation I worked 25 years to build, all in just a few moments,” Mehul told Moneycontrol over the phone.

Reflecting on his experience, he lamented the ease with which misinformation proliferate online. No one asked him his side, questioned logically if a student could have a full-time job or even paid attention to the video whether it was government food bank or a college programme.

“This experience taught me a hard lesson: not everything you see on the internet is true. Often, the real story is very different from what people assume. This the dark side of social media and internet either can make you hero or zero in a click of time,” he added.

Mehul Prajapati, who is now getting regular anxiety attacks, just wants to come back home for a while to spend some time with his family but that too seems far off as he still remains locked inside his house, scared for his safety in a foreign country.

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