Picture of Police Brutality on Sabarimala Devotee: Fact Check

About Picture of Police Brutality on Sabarimala Devotee
Picture of Police Brutality on Sabarimala Devotee

Warning: Pictures in this article may appear insensitive to some viewers. Discretion advised.


Horrifying Picture of Police Brutality on Sabarimala Devotee

Other Versions

See the violent treatment of Kerala Police on Lord Ayyappa devotees

Fact Check:

A sensitive picture viral on social media seems to show Kerala Police brutality on Sabarimala devotee. It appears to show a policeman stepping on chest and using lathi (stick) over a devotee carrying ‘Irumudikkettu’ and holding an idol of Lord Ayyappa. The claim about the violent treatment of Kerala Police on Lord Ayyappa devotee is however not true.

Not Police Brutality on Sabarimala Devotee

The picture garnered scrutiny due to protests in Sabarimala after the Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women of all ages into the temple. In fact, most viewers thought the incident in the picture is real and went on to share it in shock. Some notable people like Kapil Mishra, an Aam Aadmi Party MLA in Delhi, also shared it without verifying its authenticity.

Image of Kapil Mishra's tweet

There’s another photograph showing someone holding a sickle (knife) against the neck of the ‘Ayyappa devotee’, which depicts even more violence. The fact of the matter, however, is that both the pictures are staged – as part of a Photoshoot.

About Picture of Police Brutality on Sabarimala Devotee

The man in the pictures is in fact Mannarkulanji native Rajesh R Kurup, an RSS worker who posted the picture on Facebook. After it went viral amidst the controversy, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) leader S. Sarathbabu filed a police complaint. Kerala Police arrested Rajesh on 5th November 2018 and confiscated his mobile phone, before releasing him on bail later. During inquiry, Rajesh Kurup revealed to the police that he arranged a photoshoot and shared the picture, reportedly, to express his protest over the police action in Sabarimala. Note, the second picture has a watermark of the photographer on it.

Violence in Sabarimala

Earlier in October, there was tense row after the Sabarimala temple was opened for the first time after Supreme Court gave verdict allowing entry of women of all ages. The age-old tradition barred the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 years. Consequently, devotees blocked the temple entrance for such women. Several people and organizations were also protesting against the Supreme Court verdict. Kerala Police drove away the protesters and also resorted to lathi charge in some occasions.

Some protesters opposed women visiting Sabarimala area in public transport vehicles, also attacking and damaging the vehicles. The Sabarimala row turned into battle involving stone pelting from both sides and lathi charge from Police. Some policemen even took to damaging vehicles parked in Pampa, at the base of Sabarimala.

Later High Court of Kerala asked the Government to take action against the police officers who destroyed vehicles in Sabarimala. The High Court also mentioned it is evident from some pictures that police had their hand in some unlawful acts.

Rajesh Kurup seems to have expressed his protest in the above context of Sabarimala row that turned violent. He deleted the picture posted on Facebook in view of the controversy it created. Police charged Rajesh Kurup with cases for defamation and attempt to create communal tension.


So, the story attached to the picture, i.e. Police brutality on Sabarimala devotee is a hoax. The picture, in fact, comes from a photoshoot and is not a part of the protests that occurred after Supreme Court made it legal for all age-group women to enter the Sabarimala temple.

Hoax or Fact:



Attacking Ayyappa devotee; Man arrested for spreading fake photo
RSS worker held for circulating fake photos on Sabarimala row

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Prashanth Damarla