Several messages and videos have been doing the rounds on social media in Kerala claiming that a giant man is terrifying people and robbing homes.

Fact check No there isnt a giant black man on the prowl in Kerala
news Rumour Tuesday, April 07, 2020 - 19:16

Over the past few days, a photo of a dark skinned man, sitting in a vehicle has been doing the rounds in Kerala. He appears tired, and sweaty, and looks sideways straight into the camera. The photo has been doing the rounds on social media with many slurs, saying that he resembles the ‘spring man’, who is supposedly over eight feet tall, can climb up palm trees very quickly and can be found in Thrissur’s Kunnamkulam area. Some messages claimed that he is a thief.

None of the above was true, though. The man in the photo is Banath Pullara, a tug of war competitor and player from Manjeri in Malappuram district. It was only a couple of days ago that he received calls from his friends telling him that his photo was being circulated in such a manner. Much to his disappointment and anguish, his elderly mother also questioned him because she saw these posts and messages, asking him if he actually goes to commit robberies on the pretext of going for competitions.

Speaking to TNM, Banath said, "The photo that is circulating was taken around the time of a competition. Before some competitions we have to reduce our weight. So we don’t eat for few days, and remain inside closed vehicles to sweat, and lose weight. The photo was taken at that time. But seeing the messages circulating along with it, my mother asked me whether I go for robberies in the name of competitions.”

Banath added that he has filed a complaint with the Manjeri police about the fake social media posts targeting him.

The messages and rumours

Banath is just one person who has faced the brunt of being targeted by fake news and fake messages. Several people in many areas of Kerala, having believed these rumours, attempted to patrol their streets at night. One woman in Kunnamkulam was even admitted to the hospital – a result of being terrified after seeing the messages about this giant ‘black man’.

According to the police, the messages are just one manifestation of a rumour that started doing the rounds early last week.

Speaking to TNM, Kunnamkulam police station house officer KG Suresh said that a group of people intentionally planned and spread the fake news.

"Despite the lockdown, some of the youngsters wanted to go out. So, they did that on the pretext of searching for a mysterious ‘black man’ or ‘spring man’. There is no truth in any of the stories from Kunnamkulam. We have taken statements from everyone and they all claim that some other people saw the ‘creature’. All the videos spread are morphed or edited by taken some previous robbery CCTV footage," he said.

As a result of these rumours, that spread quickly, many people were actually scared. Groups of people went on night patrols, armed with sticks, looking out for this non-existent person. The local police also received several phone calls saying they had spotted the giant. Some people claimed that the person had thrown stones at their house.

Similar reports also emerged from Panniyankara of Kozhikode where people claimed that they saw a shadow-like figure that could swiftly jump and run. People claimed that he made noises at night and also jump from one roof to the other.

Residents of Vattakinar in Kozhikode were also affected by these rumours. They reportedly feared a creature that knocks on windows in the night and makes strange voices. But many of them believed that it was just miscreants who were up to this, and waited outside the whole night to catch them, but found no one.

The police too, after an enquiry, found no such robber or giant, or truth to these claims.

Police arrest 6 in Guruvayur for sharing messages with false information.

On Sunday, Kerala police arrested six youths in Guruvayur for allegedly sharing these messages about a ‘black man’ in their circles.The group was riding their bikes in their locality when they were arrested.

“When we asked them why they were out, they said that we’re trying to catch the “black man”. We then asked if anyone of them had seen this creature, nobody had a concrete response. We then proceeded to book then under the Indian Penal Code, Epidemic Act and the Kerala Police Act 2011,” KC Sethu,, Guruvayur Circle inspector, told TNM.

The accused persons have been booked under sections 118 E (act causing danger to public or failure in public safety) 120 O (causing nuisance through repeated/undesirable communication) of the Kerala Police Act, section 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance 2020.

With inputs from Sreedevi Jayarajan

 

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