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Indian Data Scientist Becomes Target of Online Vitriol Due to Misinformation About His Free Food Bank Video

Indian Data Scientist Becomes Target of Online Vitriol Due to Misinformation About His Free Food Bank Video

  • 26-year-old Mehul Prajapati posted videos about his life in Canada and information about free food to help fellow students.

Indian data scientist Mehul Prajapati, who is on a student visa in Canada, has been facing online backlash after he shared a video revealing how he got free food from a program meant students facing financial difficulties. With the video, the 26-year-old wanted to aid his fellow students by creating informational videos about his life in Canada. But, instead, he became a target of online vitriol. A rumor that he was fired from his job at TB Bank also began circulating on social media.

In a now deleted video, he said saves “hundreds of bucks” every month in food and groceries, and also shared his food haul for the week which included fruits, vegetables, bread, sauces, pasta, and canned vegetables. 

The video quickly drew backlash online, with people pointing out that someone with a salary of 98,000 Canadian dollars didn’t need food bank support. ‘They tagged his employer, TD Bank, and sought action against him. “’This guy has a job as a bank data scientist for @TD_Canada, a position that averages $98,000 per year, and proudly uploaded this video showing how much “free food” he gets from charity food banks,” the video was captioned by an X user. 

The rumor began from a post on X by user @Slatzism who posted the video. 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”.

But all this is untrue and “fake” news. Prajapati spoke to several Indian media outlets to set the record straight, and provided supporting documents to vindicate himself. He was never an employee of the bank; but he intervened there for 17 weeks. His stint ended in December 2023. Since then he’s been out of work, he told India Today. 

Prajapati arrived in Canada in 2022 on a student visa to pursue a master’s degree at Wilfrid Laurier University. As an international student, he highlighted the challenges, including financial strain and mental stress, of being away from family in a foreign country. He told Money Control that “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 saves close to a $100 a month because of the free food program at the college. 

The free food he is availing is provided by the Wilfrid Laurier University, in collaboration with Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG) and Martin Luther University College, which provides free groceries for students facing food insecurity. He emphasized to India Today that the video was for educational purposes and meant for international students, and added that he mentioned his college’s food bank, not government-run food banks, in his video. “The resource mentioned in the video is meant for university students specifically, not the general public. Everything I mentioned is factual, as per the website,” he said. 

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