An old photo of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) President Amit Shah and former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh welcoming a man to the party-fold, has gone viral on social media with a false narrative.
The caption with the photo reads, “Meet the NIA judge Ravindra Reddy joining BJP who acquitted RSS leader – Swami Aseemanand in Mecca Masjid bomb blast”.
However, neither has Ravindra Reddy joined BJP nor is the man in the picture being greeted by the BJP leaders the former National Investigation Agency judge. The man in the picture is former Indian National Congress MLA Ram Dayal Uike, who had joined the BJP last year.
The fake post was also debunked by Alt News.
The post was shared on Facebook pages Feku Express and Mangalore Voice, and was subsequently tweeted and shared by several social media users, several of them being verified Twitter handles.
Journalists fall for fake post
Several prominent Indian journalists also tweeted the image with the misleading claim. However, most of the tweets have been now deleted and clarifications issued, barring few exceptions.
Journalist Sourav Datta, who had shared a screenshot of the Mangalore Voice’s post, later deleted it and issued a clarification. Others too, including Nidhi Razdan, Swati Chaturvedi, Sadanand Dhume, who had quote-tweeted Datta, deleted their tweets and issued clarifications regarding the same.
However, there are others like Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh who are yet to delete the tweet or issue clarification.
The archived version of the tweet can be accessed here.
The viral post had claimed that former judge Ravinder Reddy had joined BJP. Reddy had was in the news in April last year when he had acquitted five persons – including preacher Swami Aseemanand – in the Mecca Masjid blast case in Hyderabad in March 2007. Back then, Reddy had also expressed his keenness to join the BJP.
However, the man being greeted by Shah in the photo is not Ravinder Reddy. More importantly, Reddy has not joined the BJP. The man in question here is Ram Dayal Uike, a Congress MLA from Chhattisgarh. Uike had shifted base from BJP to Congress in 2000, and is a popular tribal face in Chhattisgarh. He joined BJP in October 2018.
The full report can be accessed here.
Who is Ravinder Reddy?
Ravinder Reddy is a former judge. He had presided over the Mecca Masjid blast case and acquitted preacher Aseemanand and four others on April 16 2018.
Within hours of delivering the judgement, Reddy had resigned citing personal reasons. Later, he expressed keenness to join BJP but things did not materialise and Reddy later joined the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS), founded by activist M Kodandaram. TJS was a part of the Congress-led grand alliance against the Telangana Rashtra Samithi ahead of the Assembly elections held in 2018.
A report published in The Hindu about the ex-judge joining TJS can be read here.