Chief Justice of Sri Lanka was not assaulted over “unconstitutional ruling”

The viral images are of a 2015 ink attack on an Indian activist

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Claim: An image is circulating on social media with the claim that it shows the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka after he was assaulted by the public for “giving an unconstitutional ruling”.

Fact: The caption of the image is false. The image in question is in fact of an Indian activist after he was attacked by the far-right group Shiv Sena in 2015.

Fact or Fiction?

On 19 April 2022, Facebook page PTI Pakistan shared an image with the following Urdu caption: سری لنکا کے چیف جسٹس نے غیر آئینی فیصلہ دیا تو عوام نے بارہ گھنٹوں کے اندر چیف جسٹس کو پکڑ کر پہلے دھلائی کی پھر منہ کالا کرکے سارا شہر گھمایا.

Translated into English, the caption reads, “When the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka gave an unconstitutional decision, the people grabbed the Chief Justice within twelve hours, first beat him, then blackened his face and walked him around the city.”

Soch Fact Check conducted a reverse image search on Google which showed that the image is not of the Chief Justice but of Indian activist Sudheendra Kulkarni. Kulkarni was attacked by Indian far-right group Shiv Sena in 2015. The incident took place when Kulkarni was on his way to attend a book launch by Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

The original image of the incident was shared by The Times of India on 13 October 2015. Media outlets also reported on the incident and other images of the incident can be found on BBC and Dawn. Soch Fact Check could not find any evidence of recent incidents of assault involving the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.

Virality

To investigate the virality of the image in question, Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis. A keyword search of the post’s Urdu caption turned up 47 posts between 19 – 27 April 2022, which received a cumulative 11,400 interactions.

The photo was shared with similar claims here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here on Facebook and here, here, here, and here on Twitter.

Conclusion: The image in question does not show the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka after he was assaulted by the public for handing down an unconstitutional ruling. The image is in fact of an Indian activist who was assaulted by a far-right Indian group in 2015.

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