A picture of a man, with his head bandaged and arm in a sling, has gone viral on social media. Several users, including verified handles, claim the picture to be of a BJP worker thrashed by footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s fans in Kerala after he allegedly tore up the flag of Ronaldo’s country, Portugal, thinking it to be SDPI’s (the political wing of the banned Popular Front of India). The FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicked off on Sunday amid the huge fan craze in the southern Indian state that has drawn attention from all over the world.
The archived version of the tweet can be seen here.
Newschecker first ran a keyword search for “Portugal flag India fan”, which threw up multiple news reports of a particular incident that happened in the run-up to the World Cup. According to an NDTV report, dated November 16, a man was arrested for allegedly destroying the flag of Portugal that had been raised at a roadside junction in Panoor, which is in Kannur district, Kerala, by the fans of football sensation Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The video of the man tearing apart the European nation’s flag went viral on social media after some online platforms claimed that the man, allegedly a BJP supporter, destroyed the flag as he mistook it for the flag of SDPI, a political party,” read the report, adding that the police said the man may be a BJP supporter, but that he did the act in an inebriated state. We learnt that the man, Deepak Elangode, was released on bail after he was arrested for causing public nuisance. Barring a minor confrontation that ensued between the accused and Portugal fans on the spot before the police intervened, none of the reports mentioned any assault that left the man with injuries.
We then went through the viral video of the incident, where you could clearly see a man tearing the flag of Portugal propped up on the roadside. However, upon closer inspection, the man in the video does not seem to be the one in the viral image, raising our doubts.
We got in touch with Azad MP, the circle inspector at Panoor police station, who said the viral image is fake. “There was an incident where Deepak, a local BJP worker, tore a flag of Portugal, mistaking it to be of SDPI. We, too, have received this viral image of a man in bandages, but it is fake. The man is not Deepak and is not related to the flag-tearing incident. We had immediately arrested Deepak and slapped a case. There was no assault by a fans’ group. This photo is of some other injured man”.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s fans in Kerala did not beat up a BJP worker who had ripped up a flag of Portugal kept on the roadside.
Telephonic conversation with CI Azad MP, Panoor police station
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