The formal commencement of the much-promised Ram Temple in Ayodhya was held on August 5 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying its foundation stone. While the 175 invited list of people strictly followed social distancing, people gathered in large numbers, some without masks, on the way to the Ram temple to catch a glimpse of the Prime Minister.
An image of a large rally with saffron flags is viral on social media with the claim that the crowd is from Ayodhya on the day of Ram Temple’s groundbreaking ceremony. The caption in the Tamil language to one such image posted on Facebook translates to, “This is the crowd in Ayodhya in the name of bhoomi pujan. Prime Minister Modi is the reason for this.”
India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim is misleading. The image is from the 2018 Ram Navami Shobha Yatra held in Kalaburagi, Karnataka, and has nothing to do with Ayodhya’s Ram Temple bhoomi pujan.
The archived versions of the viral claim can be seen here and here .
BJP workers clashed with police in several parts of Ayodhya over the celebration of the groundbreaking ceremony on August 5. However, a large gathering as seen in the viral image was not reported by any media.
With a combination of reverse image and keyword search, we found a YouTube video uploaded in 2018. The title of the video reads, “Shree ram navami in kalaburagi 2018”
We can find shots similar to the viral image multiple times in this 2 minutes 12 seconds video. The viral image seems to be a screengrab taken from this video.
Also, there is a yellow board with a Kannada script that can be seen in the video.
We also came across several links to similar videos from Karnataka captured from different angles on YouTube in March 2018.
A close look at a similar video — shot from the opposite side shows a black bus with “Karnataka state reserve police” written on it. This helped us to confirm that the rally is from Karnataka.
In November 2018 as well, images from the same rally in Karnataka had surfaced on social media claiming the crowd gathered at Ayodhya demanding the construction of Ram temple. AFWA had debunked the claim then as well.
Hence the claim that the image shows a sea of devotees gathered at Ayodhya for Ram temple bhoomi puja is false. This is Ram Navami Shobha Yatra held in Kalaburagi, Karnataka, in the year 2018.