“Hey kannadiggas this is the extensive work done by missionaries in Karnatka. Wat is ‘Lingayat Cotholic’. These bloody missionaries are fooling innocent n poor hindus..N they r falling for few money..@SushmaSwaraj hope u r not approving visas 4 these anymore…“, this is the tweet by a Twitter user @drshraddha16. The image accompanying the tweet is that of a church with the name of the church being ‘Lingayath Catholic Church‘. The text under the name of the church is “Estd: April 16, 2018 Bangalore, Karnataka“. This image of the church is currently viral on social media.
This image is also viral on Facebook and WhatsApp. A page called ‘Sanskriti’ with close to 460,000 followers shared this image with the text, “What the heck is this now?”
The decision of Siddaramaiah government declaring Lingayats as a religious minority in March, 2018 has been a contentious one. In recent past, Gujarat Government had accorded minority status to Jains as well. However, accordance of minority status to a religion is not equivalent to declaring a religion as a catholic sect. Therefore, an image claiming to be a ‘Lingayath Catholic Church’ didn’t add up and hence, Alt News decided to fact-check this. We used Google reverse image search to look up the antecedents of the image. An illustration of the process of using Google Reverse Image search using the Chrome Browser can be seen in the screenshot below.
There’s no Lingayath Church
When we reverse-searched the image as shown in the illustration above, we were led to a blog called ‘Beautiful Indian Churches‘.
The image that is currently being passed off as a ‘Lingayath Catholic Church’ established in April 2018 in Bangalore is actually a church in Dahanu, a coastal town in Thane district in the western part of Maharashtra. The blogger had clicked the picture during his visit to Dahanu and had posted it on the blog. The blog post is dated 14 April, 2012. The original image can be seen below.
As can be seen from the images above, the church is called ‘OUR LADY OF DOLOURS CHURCH‘ and not ‘Lingayath Catholic Church’. The text under the name is “दुखी माता चर्च, डहाणू“(Translation: Dukhi Mata Church, Dahanu).
An image of a church from Dahanu, Maharasthra was photoshopped to portray it as a newly established church in Bangalore belonging to the Lingayat community who were recently accorded the minority status. This confirms to the pattern of fake news around the Lingayat issue that Alt News has debunked in the recent past. Serial fake news purveyor Postcard News circulated a fake letter addressed to Sonia Gandhi by Karnataka Minister MB Patil in which it was alleged that the Lingayat issue was engineered with the help of Global Christian Organisation and World Islamic Organisation. As it happens, none of the two organisations quoted in the letter exist. Previously, many including BJP MP Subramanian Swamy shared a fake email about involvement of Church in the Lingayat issue.
There is a concerted effort by the right-wing fake news industry to portray that the Lingayat issue has been masterminded by the Congress in collusion with the religious representatives of Christians and Muslims in India. The act of circulating a photoshopped image of a Church is a continuation of the religious scare-mongering technique adopted by the right-wing.