Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Wednesday said that a photo that went viral today wherein an on-duty driver is seen wearing a "white robe" (akin to what Muslims wear) was one intended to mislead people.
KSRTC drivers have a uniform - sky blue shirt and navy blue trousers (for men) - and PH Ashraf, the driver in the photo, is indeed wearing one, the state transport corporation said.
What is seen as a white robe in the photo is in fact the shirt (sky blue in colour, but appearing white) and a white towel that Ashraf had kept on his lap, as bus drivers often do, to keep his trousers clean during the long shift, KSRTC clarified.
It said the photo was taken at such an angle to mislead people.
KSRTC had launched a probe soon after the photo went viral. The probe too found that PH Ashraf was wearing the duty uniform. The photo was taken on May 25 whilst Ashraf was driving the bus from Thiruvananthapuram to Mavelikara.
In the photo, Ashraf is also seen wearing a kufi (a skull cap that Muslim men often wear). KSRTC does not have any specific rules for headgear.
Several right-wing groups had unsuccessfully called attention to this misleading photo on various social media platforms to lament what they deemed as yet another sign of Kerala's deteriorating socio-cultural fabric.
Chief among them were BJP State President K Surendran who wrote, "This photo (24.05.2022) is from the Kerala RTC's fast passenger bus from Thiruvananthapuram to Mavelikkara. Where is the uniform? Is it the new uniform of the KSRTC drivers? Who knows whether some of the Police & Fire Force officers will come to duty in this uniform?" (sic).
Another right-wing platform Hindu Protection Forum, which purportedly defends Hindu rights in the state, simply wrote, "Is this Kerala?", implying (falsely) that such displays were detached from what is considered regular in the southern state.
KSRTC had switched from their earlier khaki uniform to sky blue shirts/churidars and navy blue trousers on July 1, 2015.