A disturbing photo of a priest hanging from a temple wall in Uttar Pradesh is being shared on social media with a false narrative that Muslims killed the Hindu priest.
The photo that has gone viral on social media, shows Baba Prem Das, a priest at the Ram Janki temple in Unchahar area in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh hanging from the balcony of the temple with a crowd gathered below the body. Local police have confirmed to BOOM that the FIR has been registered against four Hindus and there is no communal angle to the incident. District authorities have also confirmed to BOOM that the priest was not murdered but committed suicide.
However, social media is rife with speculative posts that pin the priest’s death on Muslims. A Facebook user shared the photo in a post calling the incident, an “ISIS style terrorism”.
The post is also being shared on Facebook with a caption in Hindi that says, “One more priest has been murdered in Ram Janki temple in Rae Bareli. Previously, Jihadis had warned that if the temple doesn’t stop playing bhajans and aartis then they would kill the priest. And that is exactly what they did. Remember Hindus, till Muslims are your friends, but as soon as he gets a chance he will destroy you and won’t spare the women in your life too.“( रायबरेली के राम जानकी मंदिर में एक और पुजारी की हत्या कर दी गयी। जिहादियों ने पहले भी धमकी दी थी कि मन्दिर में भजन और आरती बन्द नही हुई तो पुजारी को मार देंगे। और उन्होंने वही किया। याद रखो हिन्दुओ जब तक मुसलमान से दोस्ती रखोगे वो तुम्हारे तलवे भी चाट लेगा, लेकिन जहा उसको मौका मिला वही वो तुम्हे तो बर्बाद करेगा ही साथ ही साथ तुम्हारी बेहन, बेटियों को भी नही छोड़ेंगे।जागो हिन्दूजागो) . All the posts have included the word ‘Jihadi‘ in the hashtag.
No Communal Angle To The Incident Say Police
BOOM contacted Uttar Pradesh police who denied that there was any communal angle to the incident.
Speaking to BOOM, Shashi Shekhar Singh, Additional Superitendent of Police, Rae Bareli explained that the victim is Baba Prem Das, a priest at the Ram Janki temple in Unchahar area in the state. He said that the victim’s body was found hanging from the balcony of the temple and the police were informed by the locals who saw the body hanging when they went for to the temple on Wednesday morning. Singh added that while the police were investigating whether the incident was a suicide or a case of murder, an FIR had been registered against four individuals.
“The temple trust (Mutt) has registered an FIR against four people who all belong to one community and none of them are Muslims. The trust has alleged that some people were involved in a dispute over the land on which the temple was built and they might have been behind the death of the priest,” Singh said. He added that the police was yet to confirm the exact cause of death but were certain “there was no communal angle in the incident.” He added that the priest was revered and respected by all religions and the condolence meet saw many Muslims also attend take part in it and grieve his death.
BOOM also reached out to Sanjay Khatri, District Magistrate, Rae Bareli who informed that the case was likely that of a suicide. “The priest had allegedly been wrongly framed in a rape case which had been reopened in the High Court recently. After the court issued a Non Bailable Warrant against the priest, he is said to have been under immense stress. We have also found a suicide note with the belongings of the priest,”said Khatri. He added that the police were investigating the claims of the temple trust. “FIRs have been registered against four people – B N Maurya and three of his associates Sanjeev Maurya, Baba Ram Swarup and Amrit Lal. None of them are Muslims.”
A former city correspondent covering crime, Nivedita is a fact checker at BOOM and works to stop the spread of disinformation and misinformation. When not at work, she escapes into second-hand bookstores, looking for magic or a mystery.