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HomeFact checkViralChamarajanagar District SP Divya’s Images From Anjaneya Temple Shared With Misleading Claims

Chamarajanagar District SP Divya’s Images From Anjaneya Temple Shared With Misleading Claims

A Twitter user claims that Chamarajanagar district SP Divya Sara Thomas visited #AnjaneyaTemple in Kollegala and pressurised the priest to place a photo of Jesus in the temple. The user claims that this was an attempt to convert the temple into a church. 

Posted on 13 August along with three photographs of SP Divya and the temple, the tweet garnered 3.7K likes and 3.2K retweets at the time of writing this fact check. The tweet reads as follows: 

“Chamarajanar district SP Divya Sara Thomas visited #AnjaneyaTemple in Kollegala & reportedly put pressure on the priest to place the photo of #Jesus inside the sanctum sanctorum of Temple and forced for pooja to be offered. This is attempt to convert the temple into church.”

https://twitter.com/theanuragkts/status/1293898987741646850?s=20

The above claim has been widely shared on Twitter this past week. Author Shefali Vaidya tweeted the claim posted by another user on 12 August writing, “What effing nonsense is this? If the SP wants to be a Jesus peddling soul harvester, she can do it at home.” She later tweeted that SP Divya be suspended for the same. 

Another user shared this claim on Twitter which received 6K likes and 6.1K retweets as of 5pm on 14 August. 

We also received the below image on our Whatsapp verification number with the following claim: “ In the Chamarajanagar district SP Divya Sara Thomas went to the temple of Anjaneya in Kallegala and worshipped the idol of Jesus.” 

Whatsapp claim we received on Chamarajanagar SP Divya's visit to Anjaneya temple.
Whatsapp claim we received on Chamarajanagar SP Divya’s visit to Anjaneya temple

Fact Check/ Verification 

We reached out to Chamarajanagar district Superintendent of Police (SP) Divya Sara Thomas for verification on the said incident in the claim. She responded saying that the claim in context is false and “purely mischief intended to malign.”

During our research we came across a user who shared an image detailing the incident in context. It said that SP Divya was on her way to attend flood related services and came to Anjaneya temple on request. Coincidently the police personnel were there at the time when a photograph of Jesus was kept before God to offer archana (a temple ritual). The user states that someone mischievously took a photograph at that point and posted it on “Facebook with a fictitious title.”

On sharing this post with SP Divya, she confirmed it to have the actual facts of what really happened on that day. 

The Karnataka State Police Fact Check debunked the claim posted by a Twitter user on 12 August stating that it is factually incorrect and mischievous. The fact check explains that SP Divya, who’d recently taken charge of the district was on rounds in Kollegal Taluk for flood related arrangements when a few devotees requested her to visit the temple. Further the fact check explains, 

“On realizing that the new SP is from a different faith the priest after completing the puja rituals gifted her a photo of Jesus Christ along with photos of hindu deities also. The SP has not forced the priest or the devotees to offer archana for Jesus Christ nor did she carry any photos on her person to the temple. The photos of the incident has been misinterpreted and is being circulated in social media with incorrect information. The priest of the temple also has issued a clarification in this regard through a video.”

Karnataka State Police Fact Check on Chamarajanagar SP Divya's visit to Anjaneya temple
Karnataka State Police Fact Check on Chamarajanagar SP Divya’s visit to Anjaneya temple

In News Reports

After the photograph of Jesus in the temple went viral on social media with varying claims, Etv Bharat reported on the incident along with an apology and clarification from the priest through a video. 

You can also read Prajavani’s report on the incident here.  

Conclusion 

Our research including a clarification from the Karnataka State Police Fact Check makes it clear that though Chamarajanagar district’s SP Divya Sara Thomas visited Anjaneya temple in Kollegala, she did not pressurise the priest to place a photograph of Jesus in the temple. Therefore, the claim in context which associates SP Divya’s temple visit as an attempt to convert it into a church is misleading. 

Result: Misleading 

Our Sources

Chamarajanagar district SP Divya Sara Thomas

Tweet: https://twitter.com/Venugop87493747/status/1293570014415433728

Karnataka State Police Fact Check

ETV Bharat: https://www.etvbharat.com/kannada/karnataka/state/chamrajnagar/worship-to-jesus-with-anjaneya-swamy/ka20200810182511795

Prajavani: https://www.prajavani.net/district/chamarajanagara/kollegala-anjaneya-jesus-christ-photo-viral-752572.html


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Nikita Vashisth
Nikita is a writer and editor for English fact-checking. She also leads projects to understand the misinformation and fake-news ecosystem—with an emphasis on data and psychology. Previously, she has worked with IndiaSpend, CNN-News18 and written for Citizen Matters and Mongabay-India on the environment, health, and politics. She’s a postgraduate of the Computational Journalism program at Cardiff University, Wales.

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