Photo of a police officer trying to control a political protest in Lucknow in 2011 has been doing the rounds of social media as police excess against anti-CAA protestors

It is often said that an image is worth a thousand words. In some cases, it may be worth a lot more.

Take, for instance, this photograph that has been shared by several social media accounts as an example of the misleading narrative of police excesses against Muslims in India.

On June 1, FaceBook user Manisha Natheniel Maganji posted the above image with the caption “Being Muslims in India”, and said “I can’t breathe”, trying to echo the sentiments of protestors in the US after George Flyod’s death..

The caption that goes with this makes an emphatic statement, but misses out on vital details like where this is from. Or when this incident took place.

The context that has been implied or attributed to this image on social media has revolved around the anti-CAA protests that began in several parts of the country in late 2019. One of the epicentres of this protest was Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia and the areas adjoining it, and later parts of north-east Delhi, in December 2019.

This photograph is actually from 2011. The best part? It has nothing to do with Muslims!

A report by India Today had said that this is the same photo that was shared on social media in December last year accusing Delhi Police of attacking Jamia students.

The photo is actually from Hazratbal in Lucknow - in 2011.

According to the India Today report citing news coverage of the incident,
the person lying on the ground and being attacked by a police officer is NOT a Muslim. He is a Hindu - Anand Bhadauria, the head of Lohia Vahini which is the Samajwadi Party’s youth wing.

A report by The Quint, with the headline “IPS Officer Stepping On Jamia Student? No, Image Is From Lucknow”
also said that this photograph was “from Lucknow and was shot during the protests organised by Samajwadi Party’s youth wing Lohia Vahini against the arrest of party chief Akhilesh Yadav on 9 March in 2011.”

Some other media reports from the time put the date of this incident as March 9, 2011; one of the news clippings available online shows this photograph.