Since the arrest of 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi on 13 February, social media has been abuzz with misinformation targeting her in connection with the ‘toolkit’ controversy. On Wednesday, 17 February, one of the top trends on Twitter was ‘Disha Ravi Joseph’ with over 15,000 tweets at the time of writing this story.
It was shared by several users, who have often been called out for sharing disinformation in the past, alluding that she is a “Christian involved in a conspiracy to break India”. In another instance, social media was rife with rumours that she is a single mother. But both these rumours have been refuted by Ravi’s friends and lawyer.
Users on Twitter shared messages like “her full name is Disha Ravi Joseph” insinuating that she was involved in an “anti-national” activity because she is a Christian.
Among those who shared the false claim are popular actor Gajendra Chauhan and Supreme Court advocate and serial offender Prashant Patel.
The tweet was shared by thousands of users on the platform.
WHAT WE FOUND
Let’s take a look at both these claims one at a time:
- Is Disha Ravi’s full name Disha Ravi Joseph?
- Is Disha Ravi a single mother?
‘HER FULL NAME IS DISHA ANNAPPA RAVI & SHE IS A HINDU’
In connection with the first claim, we found a report by The News Minute, which quoted Ravi’s lawyer as saying that Disha Ravi’s full name is Disha Annappa Ravi and she is a Hindu.
“Disha’s religious identity does not matter here. How is it relevant if she is Christian or Hindu? She is a nature lover and had friends from all over. She has not followed any religion though she was brought up in a Lingayat household. It is unfortunate that we have to debunk this cooked up religious identity that is being used to spread hatred further.”Disha Ravi’s Lawyer to TNM
He also said that her mother's name is Manjula Nanjaiah, while her father’s name is Ravi. They are from Tiptur in Tumkur district of Karnataka.
Further, speaking to the news publication, Disha Ravi’s friends also rubbished the claims.
NO, DISHA RAVI IS NOT A SINGLE MOTHER
The sole source of this “news” appeared to be Times Now, which, too, has now updated its article without any clarification.
The Quint also spoke to one of Disha Ravi’s friends who, too, refuted the claim that she is a single mother.
Clearly, misinformation on social media led to a storm of hateful and misogynistic posts targeting the climate activist. This is not the first time that misinformation is being used to discredit women activists and protesters. Similar false claims were earlier shared around marriage and pregnancy of anti-CAA protester and Jamia scholar Safoora Zargar. You can read our corresponding fact-check here.