An unrelated photo of an injured man is being shared with a false claim that he is Deepak from Kannur, Kerala who was arrested for allegedly vandalising a Portugal flag as he mistook it for the flag of a political outfit.
The flag was installed at a roadside junction in Panoor by fans of Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup, which began on November 20, 2022, in Qatar is speculated to be Ronaldo's last World Cup for his country, after which the legendary footballer could hang up his boots.
On November 15, videos of a man vandalising and tearing a Portugal flag in Panoor, Kannur district, Kerala went viral on social media with claims that he is allegedly a BJP supporter and tore the flag as he mistook it for the flag of a political outfit Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). The SDPI evolved out of the banned radical Islamic organisation Popular Front of India (PFI). The man was later identified as Deepak as he was arrested by Panoor Police and released on bail after he was charged under relevant sections of the Kerala Police Act.
The viral photo was tweeted by Ashok Swain with the caption, "Only in India! Christiano Ronaldo fans in Kerala have beaten up a Hindu supremacist after he tore up the national flag of Portugal, confusing it as the flag of the Social Democratic Party of India. #FIFAWorldCup2022"
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The same photo is also being shared with a caption in Malayalam when translated reads, "RSS worker who tore the Portuguese flag in Panur was assaulted by Portugal fans. Pramod, a native of Panoor, Vaidyar Peedika, was assaulted. Pramod was admitted to Thalassery Indira Gandhi Hospital with injuries"
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The same photo is being shared widely on Facebook with the misleading claim.
BOOM found that the man in the viral photo is not Deepak, who was arrested by police after a video of him vandalising a Portugal flag at a roadside junction in Panoor, Kannur district, Kerala, went viral. The flag that had been put up by Ronaldo fans to show their support for his home country in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
We ran a selected keyword search in Malayalam which showed local news reports on the incident and reporting on the viral video of the Portuguese flag being torn. Taking a cue from that we looked for other videos from the incident and found another video posted by DoolNews on Facebook on November 16, 2022.
At the 1.19 minutes timestamp, we can see Deepak's face clearly in this second video. Comparing his facial features and the outfit of the man seen in the viral video we can see that both the men are not the same.
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Comparing the viral photo with the visuals seen in the above video, we can spot that both are not the same person. Deepak has a beard and is younger compared to the man in the viral photo has a moustache and looks older.
"This is fake:" Panoor Police on viral photo
We then contacted Panoor SHO Azad MP who confirmed that the man in the viral photo is not of Deepak as claimed on social media.
"This happened on November 15, 2022, and a petty case was registered on one mister Deepak from Elangode in Kannur District. Deepak in his first statement that told the police that he did it mistaking the Portugal flag for SDPI / PFI flag and later he changed his statement saying that he did it because of some issue he had with the Portugal fans in the area," SHO Azad MP told BOOM.
He further stated that Deepak was under the influence of alcohol when he tore the flag and that he was not admitted to any hospital during the course of his arrest.
"This is fake, Deepak is around 30 years old," added MP when being asked about the man in the viral photo and Deepak's age. Additionally, Panoor Police told BOOM that Deepak's political affiliation had not been verified by the police.
BOOM then reached out to Indira Gandhi Hospital in Thalassery, Kannur district which is mentioned in the viral caption of the Malayalam post stating that the man in the viral video had been admitted there after being allegedly beaten up by Ronaldo fans.
The hospital authorities told us that there was no record of any person named Deepak Or Pramod who was admitted from Panoor since November 15, 2022, to date.
BOOM also reached out to BJP Kannur district president N Haridas on whether Deepak was a member of the BJP. Haridas stated that, "This person didn't have any kind of membership in BJP or any of its outfits." However, he did not rule out that Deepak could be a BJP supporter.
We were unable to independently verify Deepak's political affiliations or his statements given to police on the incident. However, we were able to establish that the viral photo of an injured man is not of Deepak's as being claimed on social media.