A screenshot of a tweet made by Sweden’s Uppsala University Professor Ashok Swain is being shared on social media claiming that a Hindu supremacist was beaten up badly by Cristiano Ronaldo fans in Kerala, for tearing the Portugal flag erected amid the FIFA World Cup 2022. A few Tamil news websites tweeted the photo of the same man and claimed him to be a BJP worker who was thrashed by Cristiano Ronaldo fans for tearing the flag of Portugal mistaking it for the flag of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: Photo of the BJP worker who was thrashed by Cristiano Ronaldo fans for tearing up the Portugal flag in Kerala.
Fact: The photo does not show the man who tore the Portugal flag after mistaking it for the flag of SDPI in the Kannur district of Kerala. A young man named Deepak Elangode was involved in a heated argument with the Portugal fans after he was caught tearing the Portugal flag erected by fans ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022. A case was filed against the youth regarding this incident at the Panoor police station in the Kannur district. Panoor police officials confirmed that the viral photo circulating on social media doesn’t show Deepak Elangode and said that no such violent attack took place between the youth and Ronaldo fans during the incident. Hence, the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.
When we searched to check whether any such violent attack took place in Kerala in the wake of the ongoing FIFA Football World Cup, we found the ‘Manorama’ news article that reported a similar incident in Kerala on 16 November 2022. ‘Manorama’ in its article reported that a young man was involved in a tussle with the fans of Portugal football team after he tore the Portugal flag erected ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022. This article reported that the youth tore the Portugal flag mistaking it for the flag of SDPI, a political wing of the banned Popular Front of India (PFI). This incident took place on 15 November 2022 at Vaidyarupeedika near the Panoor Municipality in the Kannur district of Kerala.
Reporting the details of this incident, several news websites published articles and videos. They can be seen here, here and here. A youth named Deepak Elangode reportedly tore off the Portugal flag mistaking it for the SDPI flag in Vaidyarupeedika. Visuals of Deepak Elangode tearing off the flag of Portugal can be seen here. Police intervened before the tussle become ugly between Portugal fans and the youth. As per the reports, the person was immediately arrested by police and a case was filed against him at the Panoor police station.
On reverse image search of the photo shared in the post, we could not find any reliable sources related to the photo. For further clarification regarding this injured man’s photo linked to this incident, the ‘Newschecker’ fact-check team contacted Panoor circle inspector Azad MP. Speaking to the ‘Newschecker’, Azad MP said, “There was an incident where Deepak, a local BJP worker, tore a flag of Portugal, mistaking it to be of SDPI. We, too, have received this viral image of a man in bandages, but it is fake. The man is not Deepak and is not related to the flag-tearing incident. We had immediately arrested Deepak and slapped a case. There was no assault by a fans’ group. This photo is of some other injured man.” A few Malayalam news websites have also reported the same information in their fact-check articles.
To sum it up, the injured person in this photo is not the Kerala youth who tore the Portugal flag after mistaking it for the flag of SDPI.