Photos of bloodied Delhi protesters falsely shared as 'vandals beaten over university graffiti'
Photos of three young people with bloodied faces are circulating in Facebook posts that falsely claim they were beaten up for scrawling graffiti against India's Brahmin upper caste at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. The people in the pictures were in fact attacked for taking part in a rally demanding the release of a professor at a different university who was arrested in 2014.
Warning: graphic images
"These three left-leaning persons wrote 'Brahmins leave India' on the walls of JNU. They were thrashed by the public," reads a Hindi-language Facebook post shared on December 7.
Graffiti was reportedly discovered at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on December 1, with slogans targeting Brahmins, the highest caste in India's social hierarchy system.
The photos were widely shared on Facebook, including here, here and here.
However, the claim is false.
Delhi University protest
A Google reverse image search found the photos in an article about a protest in support of a jailed professor at Delhi University.
"Delhi: Student, Activists Campaigning for G.N. Saibaba's Release Allegedly Attacked by ABVP Members", reads the headline of the report published on December 2 by Indian outlet LiveWire.
The people in the photos were members of the Campaign Against State Repression group demonstrating in support of ex-Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, who was arrested in 2014 for alleged Maoist links, LiveWire reports.
The protesters alleged they were attacked by members of the rightwing student organisation Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
The Campaign Against State Repression shared the same photos in a Facebook post which said that ABVP members attacked protesters at a rally near Delhi University on December 1.
"At around 4pm, 15 of us were campaigning near the Maurice Nagar Police Station, a person tore the pamphlet we gave him and started abusing us and threatening us," it reads.
"After sometime, three cars with ABVP goons showed up," it added. "They started throwing stones and tomatoes on us. When we reached Patel Chest Institute, they started attacking us with belts, rods and lathis (sticks)."
AFP spoke to two of the people in the photo, who identified themselves as Delhi University students Arhan (far-left) and Lakshita (far-right). They did not want to give their last names.
Both told AFP the claim about their photos is false.
They said they were attacked while campaigning near Delhi's Maurice Nagar police station. Arhan provided AFP with a First Information Report of the incident filed to police.
A police official from Maurice Nagar police station told AFP that the case was still under investigation.
The third person in the photo was unreachable.
Jawaharlal Nehru University condemned the graffiti in a statement on December 1.
"The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Santishree D. Pandit has taken a serious note of the incident of defacement of walls and faculty rooms by some unknown elements in SIS, JNU," the statement said, referring to the School of International Studies, where the graffiti was discovered.
"The administration condemns these exclusivist tendencies on campus. Such incidents will not be tolerated as JNU belongs to all."