A viral picture showing an Ayyappa devotee being 'kicked' by a police officer recently did the rounds of social media as ‘police atrocities’ at Sabarimala temple. The image was soon found to be fake. On Monday, the Mannar police arrested 39-year-old Rajesh R Kurup, a resident of Chembakapally, Mannar, for staging the photo as an attempt to lodge a protest against the Kerala police.
According to reports, Rajesh is a follower of the RSS and had spread the photographs without revealing they were staged. The pictures were shared by many social media handles as 'proof' of police atrocities. Within a few hours, it was pointed out that the images were fake and were taken as part of a photo shoot. This was exposed as an image was also uploaded by the photographer with his studio's watermark on the picture. The images stirred up a controversy and after that, Rajesh decided to delete them.
The viral photographs from the shoot showed Rajesh dressed in the attire of a Ayyappa devotee, complete with a black veshti, towel around his shoulders, irumudi kettu and holding an Ayyappa idol, being kicked by a police officer on his chest. The second image showed him being hit by a police lathi.
He was arrested after S Sarathbabu, DYFI Secretary from Chennithala area, lodged a complaint with Alappuzha district police chief S Surendran, according to a TOI report.
Rajesh has been booked under Sections 153 (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and Sections 500 (Punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 118 (Penalty for causing grave violation of public order or danger) and 120 (penalty for causing nuisance and violation of public order) of the Kerala Police Act. He has been released on bail.
According to reports, sub-inspector Jose Mathew stated that Rajesh has confessed to the police of he staged the photoshoot and circulated the fake pictures to protest against the police.
According to reports, Rajesh’s mobile phone has been confiscated and sent to the cyber cell for examination.