A set of images showing injured men at a protest site is viral on social media with captions falsely claiming that the pictures are from the recent farmers' protest that had rocked several parts of the country in past few days.
BOOM found that the viral images show the members of Indian Youth Congress, Kerala. We contacted MLA VT Balram, one of the protesters in the picture, who told us that the protest was organised demanding the resignation of a Kerala minister being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a gold smuggling case.
The images are viral at a time when farmers in several parts of the country are protesting against the three Farm Bills that got the President's nod on September 27, 2020.
The images are viral on social media with a Hindi caption that translates to 'Farmer protests get violent. These images showing brutality against the food producers will frighten you. The sold out media won't show you the atrocities against the farmers. The media is busy distracting you from the real issues...'.
(Hindi: किसान आंदोलन हुआ उग्र तस्वीरें आपको भयभीत कर देगी अन्नदाताओं पर जो अत्याचार हो रहा है यह बिकाऊ दलाल गोदी मीडिया आपको नहीं दिखाएगा| दलाल गोदी मीडिया को देश के असल मुद्दों से ध्यान भटकाने के लिए और सिर्फ हिंदू मुस्लिम करने के लिए पैसे दिए जा रहे हैं नेता से ज्यादा देस की मीडिया देश को बर्बाद कर रही है)
An archive of the post is available here.
The set of images are viral on Twitter with similar caption. An archive of the post is available here.
BOOM did a reverse image search on the pictures and found that one of the images was that of Indian National Congress leader VT Balram. Balram is an MLA from Thrithala Assembly Constituency, Kerala.
We found a September 18 tweet from the official handle of Indian Youth Congress, Kerala which had some of the viral images.
The tweet read 'The Brutal lathicharge on @INCKerala MLA Balram VT and other @IYCKerala workers is highly condemnable. Police resorting to such attacks and injure protestors is deplorable. We demand proper investigation in to the cause of lathi charge and resignation of minister KT.Jaleel. (Sic)'.
It's noteworthy that Kerala's higher education minister KT Jaleel is facing the heat of opposition parties over his alleged involvement in smuggling of gold through a diplomatic channel.
A report in Hindustan Times mentions that the smuggling case came to light on July 5 after seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic consignment. Read more about the gold smuggling case here and here.
In a recent development in the case, Jaleel was called for questioning by NIA officials on September 17 over his alleged involvement in the smuggling case.
According to a report published in the New Indian Express, protests had erupted across Kerala with protesters demanding Jaleel's resignation. The protesters included workers of Youth Congress and Yuva Morcha; the youth wing of Congress and BJP respectively.
A news report published in the Indian Express on September 17 highlighted how the police used tear gas and lathi-charge to disperse the crowd, and mentions that VT Balram was one of the protesters who was injured.
BOOM then contacted Balram, who refuted the viral claims that the images were from a farmers' protest.