A video of Sri Kalleshwara Swamy’s chariot, situated in Nitturpur village under the Gubbi police station area of Tumkur district of Karnataka, set ablaze, is viral on social media. Onlookers can be seen apprehending a person in the video. The official handle of BJP Karnataka tweeted the video with the claim that the motive behind the act of arson was attacking Hindus, similar to the way “Khilji, Ghazni and Ghori” had done in the past. The BJP also claimed that the act was a result of the Congress government’s ‘favouritism’. (Archive)

Postcard Kannada posted a graphic which includes images of the burnt chariot. The Kannada text in the graphic translates to, “Miscreants set fire to the 800-year-old Sri Kalleswara Swamy temple chariot at Nittur in Tumkur district. The more the Hindus keep silent, the more their laughter increases.” Postcard News is founded by Mahesh Vikram Hegde and Vivek Shetty. The former was arrested in 2019 in Karnataka for spreading misinformation. In the past, Alt News had exposed how Postcard is a serial fake news purveyor and unfortunately supported by many senior BJP leaders.

The graphic was posted both on Twitter and Facebook.

Fact Check

The official account of Tumkur District Police released a statement related to the incident. According to their statement, revenue officer Mohan Kumar B A had filed a written complaint at Gubbi police station, the summary of which indicated that on March 11, around noon, a person named Udari from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, set fire to the chariot of Sri Kalleshwara Swamy in Pura village. The chariot was completely burnt down. The accused, 35, belongs to the Nishad community and is said to be a resident of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. The estimated loss due to the chariot being burnt down is approximately Rs. 20,00,000/-. The accused has been arrested and precautionary measures were taken in the village to prevent any untoward incident.

Nishad‘ is a caste in Hindu community. Their population is concentrated in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Alt News was able to access the FIR online wherein Udari has been named as the accused. The details of the incident corroborate the SP’s statement. The father’s name of the accused is Radhesham. The case has been filed under the Prevention Of Damage To Public Property Act, 1984 (U/s-3) and IPC section 436.

We also found several reports of the incident by local media outlets. According to a News 18 Kannada report, the villagers initially suspected that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit. The fire brigade personnel visited the place and extinguished the fire. Later, it was discovered that some locals saw the accused setting fire to coconut leaves next to the chariot.

Tumkur SP Ashok KV informed Alt News that further investigation into the matter was on.

Hence, a case of arson in Tumkur, Karnataka by a Hindu man from Uttar Pradesh was falsely communalized by the official handle of the BJP Karnataka. The BJP targeted the Congress government and claimed that the man behind the incident was trying to ‘attack Hindus.’

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.