By: Praveen Kumar
May 29 2023
A photo of a man pinned down by the police, with a boot on his face, at the farmers' protest in 2021 is being shared as that of a woman wrestler.
For over a month, several Indian wrestlers have been protesting against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment. On May 28, top wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia were detained by Delhi Police when they were moving towards the newly inaugurated Parliament. The protest site at Jantar Mantar, two kilometers away from the new Parliament building, was also cleared by the police. There were visuals of the wrestlers being dragged and shoved into police vans. But amid this, some unrelated images have also started circulating on social media.
One such photo, which shows a person pinned to the ground with what appears to be a police boot on the person's face was shared with a claim, "woman wrestler who has won medals for India."
We conducted a reverse image search and came across several social media posts dating back to January 2021. The captions and comments in these posts suggested the image showed a man being pinned down by the police at the Delhi farmers' protest. Taking a cue from this, we looked for news reports from the time.
Articles published by The Indian Express, News18, and The Hindu carried similar images and mentioned that a farmer was pinned to the ground after he allegedly attacked a police officer. The photo was credited to the news agency PTI and was taken at Singhu Border in Delhi, where the farmers camped for months protesting against three controversial farm laws which were eventually rolled back.
The photo was also tweeted by PTI's photojournalist Ravi Choudhary on January 30, 2021. The tweet read: "Police pin down a farmer, who allegedly attacked Police SHO (Alipur) Pradeep Paliwal, during clashes between people claiming to be local villagers and farmers at the Singhu Border in New Delhi." We also found several images of the incident credited to Choudhary on PTI's photo archive.
On February 1, 2021, The Times of India reported that the farmer was identified as Ranjit Singh. He reportedly attacked the Police SHO with his sword and injured him. He was arrested along with 43 others. The chaos was reportedly caused after a mob attacked the farmers' camp despite heavy security at the Singhu border.
Although there are several images of wrestlers being detained by the police, this image is clearly old and not linked to the wrestlers' protest.
An image of a farmer pinned down to the ground by Delhi Police during the farmers' protest in January 2021 has been falsely linked to the ongoing wrestlers' protest.