A video of a protest march in Kerala is viral with the claim that it is of Muslims opposing the appointment of the new “Brahmin” district collector of Alappuzha. It is also viral with the claim that the place of the protest seen in the clip is Alleppey, Kerala.

The official page of the right-wing Hindu nationalist party Indu Makkal Katchi shared this video with the caption “In Allepy Kerala ystrday (yesterday), Muslims opposing the new Brahmin IAS collector, took out a procession, MSM cunningly avoided this and highlighted ABVP in Karnataka.” (Archived link) The tweet garnered almost 7.5k likes and 5000 retweets.

RSS mouthpiece Organiser Weekly also shared this video with the same claim and garnered almost 3000 likes. (Archived link)

Twitter user @Indian_Analyzer also tweeted the video. (Archived link)

Without making any direct claims, BJP leader Kapil Mishra tweeted about this protest saying “it is a threat to national unity and integrity…” (Archived link)

Facebook page ‘Yogi AdityaNath The Future PM’ of India posted an image of the protest with the claim that they are protesting against the appointment of a Hindu IAS as Alappuzha’s collector.

Fact-Check

There were several comments that stated that the place seen in the video is Malappuram and not Alleppey as claimed by the viral posts. The comments also noted that the protest was against the appointment of IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman as the Alappuzha district collector as he was allegedly involved in a drunk-driving accident in the past that had resulted in the death of a journalist, thus refuting claims of a communal angle.

To probe further, we looked at The Hindu report dated June 08, 2020, which stated that Sriram Venkitaraman was arrested on charges of alcohol-impaired, reckless driving resulting in the death of journalist K. M. Basheer. He was charged under Section 279 (rash driving ) and 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC. He was later granted bail.

Taking a clue from the comments that suggested that the place seen in the video is Malappuram, Alt News geolocated the location of the protest visible in the viral clip. A screengrab from the video shows a shop with the address “Up-Hill, Malappuram.”

Signboards of “Poly Dental Clinic” and “Sindhu Studio” can also be seen in the video.

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Both of these places have been located in Malappuram and within a distance of 2 meters from each other. Thus as is evident, the video was shot in Malappuram and not Alleppey, contrary to the viral claims.

We reached out to the Malappuram District Committee for Kerala Muslim Jamaath and spoke to the general secretary, Mr P.M. Musthafa. He stated, “The district collector for Malappuram is an accused in the accident of a journalist two years ago. The protest took place in 14 districts in Kerala at the same time, but the viral video is from Malappuram. I have written to the Police Superintendent, requesting him to withdraw the viral video as it is false and meant to spread hatred.”

Moreover, Alt News found several reports of this protest in Malappuram by major media outlets. According to The Hindu report dated July 30, The Kerala Muslim Jamaath and other organisations took out a protest march against the appointment of Sriram Venkitaraman as District Collector of Alappuzha on July 30. The protestors demanded that the appointment be revoked, owing to the charges that Venkitaraman was facing after he caused the death of journalist K.M. Basheer in a drunk driving-related car accident two years ago. Muslim Jamaath district president Koottambara Abdurahman Darimi presided over the function. District leaders P. Saidalavi Chengara, P.M. Mustafa Kodur, C.K. Hasainar Saqafi, Abdurazak Saqafi, and Basheer’s brother K.M. Abdurahman spoke.

There were several other protests in this regard. The Congress party also protested Sriram Venkitaraman’s appointment as District Collector of Alappuzha. Organized by the District Congress Committee, the protestors staged a Dharna in front of the District Collectorate. Another protest dharna demanding the withdrawal of Venkitaraman was held under the leadership of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists in Alappuzha.

Following these protests, the State government removed IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman from the post of District Collector, Alappuzha. The government has nominated V.R.K. Teja Mylavarapu, currently Director of the Scheduled Castes Development Department, as the new Collector of Alappuzha. The nominee, who is also a Hindu, has not faced any protest which further proves that there was no communal angle to the protest.

Thus, the video of the protest led by Kerala Muslim Jamaath and other organisations in Malappuram was being circulated with a false communal spin. It was also falsely claimed that the protest took place in Alleppey.

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.