“IS – Al Qaeda organizations take roots in Kerala; in the Capital, students demonstrate raising flags of these terror organizations- translated”, read the headline of a news report published by Kerala’s regional news channel Janam TV on December 29.

Based on this video footage, the report screamed, “JANAM Big Break”. It claimed that students of CH Mohammed Koya Memorial College in Varkala held a demonstration wherein they raised flags of terrorist organizations IS and Al Qaeda with the support of the college management, and that the contagion of terrorism is spreading in a section of Muslim students in Kerala. The report further stated that students of this college were all dressed up like ‘Al Qaeda terrorists’ and were waving ‘Al Qaeda’s’ flag’ while the college walls were all painted with graffiti glorifying these terror organisations. Janam TV report also claimed that a drawing of slain terrorist Osama Bin Laden was present on the wall.

What is the truth?

Alt News found several media reports on Janam TV’s news broadcast. The video dates back to March, 2018 when students of the college were celebrating their annual day. According to the management and students, the dress code for the annual day celebration was black, which was wrongly linked to terror organisations by the channel.

NOT Al Qaeda flags

Speaking to The News Minute, Sharan Suresh, a final year BCA student of the college at the time, said, “We were carrying flags representing the different departments of the college, like BCA has one, TTM has another. Wearing black was just part of the celebrations on our annual days, just like most colleges do, following some kind of a dress code.”

Graffiti linked to terrorist organization

The institution is managed by the Muslim Education Trust for Coastal Area (METCA). According to the General Secretary of METCA, the students might have scribbled the walls but the management has insisted on fining them for vandalism.

In a statement given to The Hindu, Aiyoor Sub Inspector (SI) Sajeev, said, “Following the report, we had visited the college. We also inspected the toilets as the television report claimed that these had suspicious drawings supporting terrorism. We found only typical drawings found on campuses, with danger signs, pirate faces, and other scribblings. The video of the celebration also did not have anything suspicious.”

No Sloganeering

Actor Salim Kumar was the chief guest invited at the annual day celebration. Speaking to The Hindu Kumar said, “It is unfortunate that it has been twisted this way because it is a Muslim management college. The students did not indulge in any sloganeering as claimed by the channel. It is also funny that all the students have been branded as terrorists. Even I was wearing black. Today, the channel came to interview me and I told them what had happened.”

Right-leaning media

An article was published by The Organiser, the mouthpiece of the RSS. It was mainly based on the Janam TV report and claimed that a group of students who are allegedly linked with ‘Kerala-based Islamist outfits’ had hoisted flags of ‘Islamic terrorist organisations’.

PGurus, a right-wing mouthpiece based in the USA has also published an article on December 29, 2018. The website also quoted a senior intelligence official saying, “We are sure that there are IS and Al Qaeda elements operating in college because such rallies can never form the part of college day celebrations”.

Social Media

J NandaKumar, a senior RSS leader also tweeted Janam TV’s news video with an identical narrative.

Canadian Author Tarek Fatah tweeted The Organiser’s article saying, “Al-Qaeda and ISIS presence in university campuses in the Indian state of Kerala.” Postcard News founder Mahesh Vikram Hedge also tweeted the video calling students ‘terror sympathisers’.

Several other individual users have shared Janam TV‘s news coverage with similar claims. @rajanandbjp, a Twitter handle posted the clip suggesting that students had raised pro-Al Qaeda slogans.

In conclusion, Janam TV painted a nine-month-old video of an annual day celebration (where students dressed up in black) as support to pro-Al Qaeda and Islamic state by the students.

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About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.