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Fact Check: These are not RSS workers dragged through the streets of Kerala by Popular Front

India Today logo India Today 20-02-2021 Dheeshma Puzhakkal
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A short clip of a group of Muslims marching two men in RSS uniforms is circulating on social media with the claim that Popular Front of India (PFI) activists in Kerala's Muslim-majority Malappuram district chained and paraded Sangh workers publicly through the streets.

Two men wearing colonial-era British uniforms also have their hands tied and are paraded by the group dressed in traditional Malabar Muslim attire and carrying PFI flags.

The caption in Hindi with the video translates to, "PFI rally at Chelari in Kerala. Slogans of 'la ilaha illallah' are raised and some RSS workers tied with chains and ropes are paraded on the streets like animals. They are tied up and their procession is taken out in ISIS style. How was this PFI hate march allowed by the Kerala government?"

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India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim along with the video to be misleading. The video is of a tableau march held as part of Popular Front Day 2021, and all the men seen in the video, including those in RSS uniforms, are PFI workers.

The archived versions of similar posts can be seen here, here and here.

AFWA probe

PFI members dragging RSS workers through the streets would have definitely made headlines. However, no such incident was reported recently, even by local media in Kerala. Upon closely observing the viral video, we could see a "Chelari Tradings" building in the background.

Searching on Google about Chelari Tradings, we were able to confirm that the building seen in the video is from Chelari in Kerala's Malappuram district. A Google Map image of the same building can be seen here.

We then reached out to Thenhipalam police station under whose limits Chelari falls. Inspector Lalu VS confirmed to us that the claim along with the video is misleading.

"On February 17, PFI had conducted a march as part of their anniversary. The march was peaceful and no incident of violence was reported. The video that has gone viral was a demonstration held as part of the march. We have not come across any recent incident of PFI activists attacking RSS workers," the inspector said.

For further clarity, we also contacted the RSS office in Kerala. Radhakrishnan M, joint secretary of the Sangh's Kerala unit, confirmed that there has been no such atrocity against RSS workers as seen in the video.

"No such incident as said in the social media post has come to our notice. We would have definitely responded if PFI had tried to forcefully march our members as seen in the viral video. The men seen in the video are not RSS members. It must have been some demonstration by the PFI," Radhakrishnan said.

AFWA then reached out to the PFI leadership in Kerala. Sudheer, the outfit's Kerala spokesperson, confirmed to us that the video in circulation is from a tableau march held as part of Popular Front Day 2021 and all the men seen in the video, including those in RSS uniforms, are PFI workers.

"This video is from a February 17 Unity March held by PFI in Malappuram as part of Popular Front Day 2021. It was only a depiction of RSS workers staged by PFI," Sudheer said. He also shared with us a video of Anees Ahmed, national general secretary of PFI, where he explains the idea behind the tableau presentation.

In the video, Anees says, "This particular drama represents the fight between Britishers and the people of Malabar in 1921. Every year, we see people of Malabar celebrating it. The idea depicted in the video was that the people of Malabar played an important role in fighting against the external threat of the British in 1921, and now when RSS is forcing the internal threat of fascism, people of Malabar will also confront them and protect our country."

We also found a "Times Now" report on the video. This February 19 report also confirms that the visuals seen in the video were part of a role play by PFI members.

Hence, it is clear that the men seen in RSS uniform in the viral video are not actual RSS workers but PFI men dressed in Sangh uniforms as part of a rally.

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