A Twitter user posted images of a priest worshipping Lord Hanuman and a photo of Jesus while a female police officer attended the puja. Messages accompanying the image read, "SP of Chamarajnar district Divya Sara Thomas has visited #Anjaneya Temple in Kollegala. SP has reportedly put pressure on the priest to place the photo of #Jesus inside the sanctum Santorum of Temple and asked for pooja to be offered. @novoversion @ShefVaidya. (sic)" This tweet has over 5.3k retweets and six thousand likes.

The same post was shared by verified Twitter profiles @KapilMishra_IND and @ShefVaidya.

The same claim also appeared on Facebook.

Fact check:

The claim that SP Divya Sara Thomas forced a temple priest to place a portrait of Jesus in the sanctum sanctorum while performing puja is FALSE.

This incident was reported by a Kannada newspaper, Prajavani, on 11 August 2020. It said, "As part of the bhoomi pooja, a special pooja and homa havan were organized at the Veeranjaneyaswamy temple. The district superintendent of police (SP), Divya Sara Thomas, had gone for inspection as the lockdown was in effect throughout the district. The high priest and astrologer, Raghavan, invited Thomas to the temple. Since the SP is a Christian, he placed a photo of Jesus before Veeranjaneya Swamy and performed the puja. On this occasion, Raghavan gave the photo to Divya."

NewsMeter found an exclusive report by Karnataka news channel, Suvarna News. It had posted a video on YouTube where the temple priest could be seen apologizing for his actions.

In both reports by Prajavani and Suvarna News, there is no mention of SP Divya Sara Thomas forcing the priest to place a portrait of Jesus in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The priest, T.V.S Raghavan, placed the portrait while performing the puja and presented it to the SP as a good gesture. "The portrait was placed with no bad intention. I apologize to the Hindu community if I offended them," he said in his apology statement.

The posts on social media have been twisted with communally-charged claims.

Hence, the claims that a Karnataka SP forced a temple priest to place a portrait of Jesus in the sanctum sanctorum of a temple is FALSE.

Claim Review :   Karnataka cop force temple priest to worship Jesus
Claimed By :  social media users
Fact Check :  False

Vamsi Krishna Pothuru

Vamsi Krishna Pothuru completed his Masters in Communication from The University of Hyderabad. He has interned with The New Indian Express and Kriti Social Initiatives. With the specialization of media research in masters, he submitted his thesis on the topic of "Fact-checking Initiatives and their response to Fake News in India." He believes that fact-checkers have a huge role to play in the fight against fake news which is a dangerous undercurrent in social media reinforcing hatred and false perceptions. Along with fact-checking, he is also interested in writing about environmental issues and human interest stories.

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