Social media is currently rife with the claim that an Indian Army soldier named Shine Kumar was assaulted by a group of unidentified men in Kerala. The attackers allegedly restrained his hands with tape and used green paint to write ‘PFI’ (which stands for Popular Front of India, a banned Islamic radical organisation) on his back. The police in Kadakkal town in Kollam district filed a case based on a complaint by the Army jawan. The alleged incident made national headlines with major media outlets, including Times Now, India Today, Times of India, The Hindu and ANI, reporting on the incident. Zee News titled their coverage of the incident as, “बैन PFI…केरल में सक्रिय कैसे ? सेना के जवान के साथ की मारपीठ” (Translation: How is banned PFI activated in Kerala? Assault on Army soldier)

National spokesperson for BJP Anil K Antony quote-tweeted a Right Wing handle which made the same claim. Antony wrote, “A serving jawan was assaulted, his hands tied up, and PFI was paint written on his back by anti-social miscreants in Kollam, Kerala yesterday. Saddened and shocked that even our armed forces personnel who we owe much for their bravery and sacrifices find no safety in Kerala”. He criticised CPI(M) Kerala, the ruling party in the state, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, neither of whom has “raised their voice”. (Archive)

BJP state president for Kerala K Surendran tweeted a graphic containing the image of PFI written on Kumar’s back. The graphic also says in Malayali that the soldier was stopped and beaten up and, PFI was written on his body. (Archive)

BJP worker C T Ravi shared a Times Now report of the incident and wrote, “In a shocking incident, a serving soldier of Bharat’s Army, S Kumar was mercilessly beaten by the terrorists of PFI organisation in Kollam district, Kerala. The Jihadis further wrote PFI on the back of our Soldier S Kumar. It is high time the Communist government in Kerala cracked down ruthlessly against these Terrorists”. (Archive)

Founder of Hindu Seva Kendra, Pratheesh Viswanath and Right Wing influencer Anshul Saxena also tweeted the same claim. Their tweets are now deleted.

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A report by Right Wing propaganda outlet OpIndia mentions “An Indian Army jawan was reportedly brutally tortured by terrorists belonging to the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Chanapara near Kollam on Sunday night, 24 September”. They further claimed that the PFI goons kicked the man, tied his hands with cello tape, beat him up incessantly, and also marked his back with the terrorist group’s name PFI. The assaulters then fled the spot. (Archive)

Fact Check

According to the most recent case updates, it was found that the alleged attack on the army man was plotted by the ‘victim’ himself. According to a detailed report by News Nine titled, “‘PFI attack’ in Kollam: Army man plotted crime to become ‘famous’, friend confesses”, the army man’s friend named Joshy reportedly confessed to Kadakkal police that he painted ‘PFI’ on the back of Shine as per his request.

According to Joshy, Shine wanted to become famous. “He asked me to paint PFI. I heard DFI and wrote that. Then he asked me to erase it and write PFI. He then asked whether I could beat him. I couldn’t do that in that condition (apparently under the influence of alcohol). They said he would lie down and asked me to drag him. I couldn’t even do that due to his weight,” Joshy confessed to the police. The police recovered the paint and the tape used in the process, from Joshy’s house.

Additional SP for Kollam Rural, R Prathapan Nair said in a statement, “He filed a complaint before the Kadakkal Police Station and during the course of investigation, it was revealed that his complaint was false. On the basis of that, he was arrested today and one of his friends (Joshy) was also arrested. He is an Army personnel and wanted national attention in this regard and that after that he will get something from this incident. He wanted to get a suitable posting for him…”.

In the following video, Shine and Joshy are seen being escorted away by the Kadakkal Police.

Thus, contrary to claims by many users on social media, the army man named Shine Kumar wasn’t actually assaulted. Kumar and his friend Joshy plotted the crime to become famous. Kumar asked Joshy to write ‘PFI’ on his back. Both of them are currently in custody.

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.