Madhya Pradesh police action on a temple priest in Rewa, who broke curfew and lockdown orders has been given a communal twist on social media. Posts are falsely claiming that priest was beaten by a Muslim police officer and was alone in the temple.
BOOM spoke to Rewa police who dismissed any communal angle and said that police officer who beat him was identified as Inspector Rajkumar Mishra who took action after seeing a crowd of nearly 200 gathered at the temple for the occasion of Ram Navami. "There is no excuse for the police officer's action and an action has been initiated. The priest too has since apologised for breaking the rules of lockdown and letting a crowd gather at the temple,"said Abid Khan, Superitendent of Police, Rewa district.
Incidentally, it is Khan's name which is being used in the social media posts to spread false and misleading claims. A set of photos from the incident showing Mishra who is the Station House Officer (SHO) of Civil Lines police station, hitting the priest with the stick has gone viral with posts claiming the officer is Khan. The posts being shared on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp paint a communal picture of the incident and falsely accuse Khan of entering the temple with shoes and beating up the priest.
The posts in Hindi when translated say, "SP Abid Khan brutally hit a priest in a temple, who was doing rituals alone. He kicked the things kept in the temple. All this while the priest kept pleading that it is the last day of Navratri and I have only come to light the lamp"
(Original in Hindi: रीवा के मन्दिर में अकेले पूजा कर रहे पुजारी को #SP_आबिद_खान ने बेरहमी से मारा. पैरों से फेंक दिया जल और बूटों से कुचला पूजा स्थल. चीखता रहा पुजारी- "मां के नवरात्रि का अंतिम दिन है., दीपक जलाने आया हूँ साहब")
BOOM reached out to Khan who clarified that the action was taken by the local police station.
"I was not even at the temple," says Khan speaking to BOOM. Khan explains that the incident happened on the night of April 1 when devotees reached the temple in Dhekaha area on the occasion of Ram Navami.
Detailing the incident, Khan said, "The SHO of Civil Line police station got a tip that nearly 200 people were at the temple. A team led by SHO Mishra reached the temple and seeing the police, many devotees started fleeing. The SHO then in a spate of anger hit the priest with stick the priest was holding."
He added, "The action by the police at the temple was unjust and unnecessary and we have initiated an enquiry into the same." SHO Mishra has since been 'line-atttached' which in police terminology signfies his removal from the post, pending inquiry.
The claims that Khan was the officer who beat up the priest was shared by several verified handles on Twitter including Vijay Shankar Tiwari, national spokesperson of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
कहा जा रहा है कि रीवा में मंदिर के पुजारी को शयन आरती करते समय पुलिस ने पीटा तथा पूजा का सामान बिखेर दिया,यहां के एस पी आबिद खान हैं,दोषी पुलिस वाले को तत्काल दण्डित किया जाए। pic.twitter.com/a6UKpV5Ppr— Vijay Shankar Tiwari (@VijayVst0502) April 3, 2020
Sudarshan News, which has in the past shared fake news of a communal nature tweeted that the police took beat up the priest despite him being alone in the temple, in a bid to say that he was not breaking lockdown rules. The post gave a communal spin to the incident by highligting that Khan was the SP of Rewa district.
मध्यप्रदेश रीवा के मन्दिर में अकेले पूजा कर रहे पुजारी को बेरहमी से मारा.— Sudarshan News (@SudarshanNewsTV) April 2, 2020
पैरों से फेंक दिया गया जल और बूटों से कुचला पूजा स्थल.
चीखता रहा पुजारी- "मां के नवरात्रि का अंतिम दिन है., दीपक जलाने आया हूँ साहब"#आबिद_खान हैं रीवा पुलिस के SP..@ChouhanShivraj @CMMadhyaPradesh pic.twitter.com/umTFoFddDT
The claim that the priest was alone was rubbished by a statement from the official handle of the Madhya Pradesh Public Relations department who took to Twitter and said, "Action was taken after a crowd had gathered at the temple despite the lockdwon". In the statement in Hindi, the department identified the police officer thrashing the priest as Rajkumar Mishra and said, "the police officer seen in the photo is not SP Abid Khan" and added that an inquiry had been initiated against Mishra.
The official Facebook page of the Inspector General of Police, Rewa Range also issued a statement with the details and said that SHO Mishra has since been removed from his post and Shivpujan Singh Bishen has taken charge as the station head.
Khan told BOOM that before the fake posts reached social media, the Madhya Pradesh police had taken necessary action. "The temple priest had been given a warning before about not holding gathering during the lockdown and since he is a government employee, he was well aware of the situation and the rules. Despite that, the pooja was held and a crowd gathered,"he said. He explained that after the incident, the policeman was taken to task and the priest also came to the station and apologised for breaking lockdown.
"Here in Rewa, after the official inquiry was initiated, people had started to forget about it. But suddenly, we started seeing posts on WhatsApp and Facebook about how it was me who beat up the priest who was alone at the temple. Our police force and town understood how fake news can travel faster than the actual incident,"he said.
When asked whether the priest has been booked for violating curfew, Khan said, "No, we have not booked him. In fact we are not booking religious organisation and only counselling them and making them understand the risk of such a gathering and the same was done with the temple priest."
Follow BOOM's LIVE blog here to stay updated on the latest about the spread of COVID-19 in India.
Updated On: 2020-04-05T00:25:01+05:30
Claim Review : SP Rewa Abid Khan beat up a temple priest who was praying alone
Claimed By : Social media posts
Fact Check : False