Around the first week of April, several social media users posted an image of a policeman interrogating a couple, while passers-by record the incident on phone cameras. The image has been shared with the claim that the police in Noida caught a Muslim boy ‘trapping’ a Hindu girl in ‘love jihad’.

नोएडा में ओखला के पास एक पार्क है नाम है,,,,
बुद्ध पार्क।
कल वहां एक लड़का और एक लड़की को पकड़ लिया योगी जी की एंटी रोमियो…

Posted by राजेश आर्य on Tuesday, 30 March 2021

An elaborate message shared with the photograph claims that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s anti-Romeo squad caught a couple in Buddha Park in Noida’s Okhla. The boy identified himself as Lalit while the girl said that her name was Vandana. They said that they were hanging out with mutual consent but the policeman present at the scene was not convinced. The boy’s name turned out to be Rehan when the cop looked at his identity proof. “Vandana was in sheer disbelief. She had seen him wear a Hanuman locket around his neck,” says the message before warning men to not let their sisters and daughters befriend any man without the family’s consent.

(Viral Hindi message: नोएडा में ओखला के पास एक पार्क है । नाम है बुद्ध पार्क….. कल एक लड़का और एक लड़की को पकड़ लिया योगी जी की एंटी रोमियो squad ने। लड़के से नाम पूछा तो बताया ललित और लड़की ने बताया वंदना। दोनों बोले मर्जी से बैठे हैं…… पुलिसवाले चाचा कहाँ मानने वाले थे। बोले अपना ID दिखाओ। लड़की ने झट कॉलेज का ID निकाल कर दिखा दिया। लड़का ना नुकर करने लगा तो दरोगा जी ने कान पकड़ लिए। फिर आख़िरकार पर्स में से ID निकाला। नाम था रेहान। लड़की के पैरों तले जमीन खिसक गई। वंदना तो ललित के गले में पड़े हनुमान जी का लॉकेट के अलावा कुछ देख ही नहीं पाई थी कुछ समझे? आखिर ये एंटी रोमियो स्क्वाड किस लिए बनाई गई है? अपनी बहन -बेटी को समझायें की बिना परिवार की सहमति के किसी भी लड़के से दोस्ती न करें । किसी भी प्रकार के झाँसा में या प्रलोभन में न फँसे। जय सत्य सनातन हिन्दू धर्म।)

BJP member Subodh Sharma who has close to three lakh followers posted this claim.

नोएडा में ओखला के पास एक पार्क है । नाम है बुद्ध पार्क…..

कल वहाँ एक लड़का और एक लड़की को पकड़ लिया योगी जी की एंटी…

Posted by Subodh Sharma on Monday, 29 March 2021

Multiple Facebook users shared this post in right-wing groups (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

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Similarly, the viral image has also been shared on Twitter. User @FromSomalia21‘s tweet gained over 400 retweets.

Fact-check

The photograph dates back to March 2017. Several media outlets had used the image to report about ‘Anti-Romeo Squad,’ an initiative by UP CM Yogi Adityanath, that aims to check eve-teasing, stalking, harassment of women and more importantly, curb ‘love jihad’ cases. ‘Anti-Romeo Squad‘ was formed at the police station level in the state.

The Quint had published the image in a March 27, 2017 article where the caption states that the incident took place in Lucknow and the photo credit is given to IANS.

The image is available in PTI archives which also identifies the location as Lucknow. It was uploaded on PTI on May 22, 2017.

Alt News reached out to several photojournalists and crime reporters in Lucknow in an attempt to identify the person who shot the photograph or the police officer in the image. While we were unable to discern the photographer’s name, the officer is inspector DK Upadhyay. Upadhyay recognised the image by our description and said, “It’s been several years since this incident happened. I don’t recollect the details. However, to the best of my knowledge, this incident is not related to love jihad.”

Earlier this year, in an RTI application filed by India Today, Uttar Pradesh police said that between March 22, 2017, and November 30, 2020, anti-Romeo squads arrested 14,454 people. “Crimes against women in the state have not declined. As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data in 2017, when anti-Romeo squads were formed, there were 153 cases of crimes against women every day. But in 2019, the figure stood at 164. But the number of rape cases in the state did go down after the squads were formed. Rape cases in UP in 2017 stood at 13 per day, this went down to 8 every day in 2019,” read the report.

A four-year-old image from Lucknow was shared by several right-wing Facebook users as a recent ‘love jihad’ incident that took place in Noida.

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About the Author

Archit is a graduate in English Literature from The MS University of Baroda. He also holds a post-graduation diploma in journalism from the Asian College of Journalism. Since then he has worked at Essel Group's English news channel at WION as a trainee journalist, at S3IDF as a fundraising & communications officer and at The Hindu as a reporter. At Alt News, he works as a fact-checking journalist.