The alleged attack on a soldier and “PFI” being written on his back in the Kollam district of Kerala turned out to be a false statement from the jawan.
The police received a statement from his associate on Tuesday, 26 September, that it was orchestrated by them to gain fame.
Shine Kumar, an Indian Army soldier, had claimed on Monday that he was assaulted by six persons near his home on Sunday, and that they wrote “PFI” on his back.
He was on Tuesday taken into custody along with a friend, named Joshi, for allegedly giving a false statement about the incident, the police said.
They have been booked under Section 153(A) of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enemity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).
‘Statements being recorded’
Following the arrest of the two, a senior police officer from the Kollam district said that the statements of the soldier and his friend have been recorded.
“Further action will be taken after verifying the contents of their statements,” the officer said.
He also said that the soldier’s friend claimed Kumar wanted to become famous and that was the reason behind the enactment of this charade.
The officer further said that the soldier was giving various reasons for making such a false statement, and that these needed to be verified.
The police also recovered the green paint, brush and tape allegedly used in the incident from the friend’s home.
The soldier’s friend told the media that Kumar planned the whole thing to become famous.
The police also said that the interrogation has revealed that the soldier had been planning such an incident for five months and hoped the fame would help him get a better positing.
The friend’s statement
Giving details of what allegedly transpired, the friend Joshi claimed that Kumar asked him to write “PFI” on his back and beat him up.
“I was drunk, so I initially wrote DFI, but he (Kumar) told me to write PFI. So I made it PFI. Then he asked me to beat him up, but I said I couldn’t because I was drunk,” said Joshi.
“Then he asked me to drag him along the ground, but I could not in my intoxicated state. So he asked me to tape his mouth and hands and then leave. So I did that,” the friend claimed.
Kumar said in his complaint on Sunday that six assailants summoned him outside his home at night and took him to an isolated area, where they attacked him and painted “PFI” in green on his back.
There appeared to be no direct witness to the incident, and a lack of clues to help trace the attackers. However, a large-scale combing operation by the police was initiated.
In his complaint, Shine Kumar said he was attacked by the group inside a rubber plantation adjacent to his house in Kadakkal.
After Kumar reported the incident to the military camp at Pangode in Thiruvananthapuram, military intelligence personnel also joined the investigation.
Based on his complaint, the police on Monday lodged an FIR under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint) of the IPC against the six alleged miscreants.
The issue caused a sensation by Monday afternoon when visuals shared on social media showed the letters “PFI” painted on the soldier’s back.
Sangh Parivar organisations interpreted that the “PFI” stood for the proscribed Islamist outfit Popular Front of India, which is under the scanner of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Sangh Parivar-affiliated organisations also started blaming the ruling LDF and the Opposition UDF in Kerala for allegedly helping the banned outfit grow and execute their plans to target Hindus.
Among those who jumped in to condemn the incident and blame both the Congress and the ruling CPI(M) for remaining mute witnesses as Kerala became a “dangerous radical Islamist hotspot” was BJP leader Anil Antony. He is yet to delete the post on X, formerly Twitter.
A serving jawan was assaulted , his hands tied up , and PFI was paint written on his back by anti social miscreants in Kollam , Kerala yesterday. Saddened and shocked that even our armed forces personnel who we owe much for their bravery and sacrifices find no safety in Kerala.… https://t.co/1kjFGkDtj3
— Anil K Antony (@anilkantony) September 25, 2023
(With PTI inputs)