News organisations and social media users shared reports and posts about an "attack" on an Indian Army jawan by five to six people in Kerala's Kollam, who allegedly painted the letters 'PFI' on his back.
PFI refers to the Popular Front of India, a political organisation which was banned by the Centre on 28 September 2022 for five years, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Several media organisations – such as news agency ANI, Times Now, Republic, NDTV among others – published reports on this incident, identifying the soldier as Shine Kumar, a native of Kadakkal in Kollam district.
(Swipe right to view reports.)
News agency ANI published a report on the alleged attack.
Times Now carried the story too, with visuals of the soldier's back.
Republic ran a news report on the incident, with the soldier's inputs.
Is it true?: Speaking to The Quint, Kollam Rural Police's Additional Superintendent of Police (Addl. SP) said that during the course of investigation, they had found that the complaint by Kumar was "false" and that he, along with a friend, had faked the incident for "national attention."
How did we find out?: Using relevant keywords, we looked for more reports on the incident.
This led us to a report by Mathrubhumi, which mentioned that the incident was found to be fake and two people had been arrested in connection to the incident.
Reports available on the internet mentioned the name of the soldier as Shine Kumar, mentioning that he had filed his complaint at the Kadakkal police station at Kollam.
As Kadakkal falls under the Kollam Rural police district, The Quint reached out to Additional SP R Prathapan Nair, who told us that the incident had not happened.
"During the course of investigation, we found that the complaint was fake... His (Kumar's) intention was that this will grab national attention and thereby he will get convenient posting."R Prathapan Nair, Additional Superintendent of Police, Kollam Rural Police
Nair said that Kumar was currently posted "somewhere in Rajasthan, in Jaisalmer I think," and wanted a posting closer to home in Kerala.
"He has done this act with the help of his friend, Joshi, who wrote these letters on his back. He (Joshi) was also arrested and the remaining portion of the paint, brush and tape were taken," Nair added.
Both accused have now been arrested and were produced in court on Tuesday, 26 September, where they were remanded to judicial custody, the Additional SP said.
The Quint also spoke to the Kadakkal Police, where the complaint was first filed, who confirmed that there was no involvement of the PFI whatsoever. The army personnel gave them a false statement to "attain fame."
They added that a case was registered against Kumar and Joshi under sections 153A (promoting enmity), 177 (furnishing false information), 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 465 and 468 (punishment for forgery or cheating), 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Kerala Police Act.
Conclusion: An Army jawan's complaint of being attacked by six people who painted 'PFI' on his back is fake. During investigation, the Kollam Rural Police found that no such incident had happened and have arrested two people.
(With inputs from Meenakshy Sasikumar.)
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