A photo showing Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tying lemons and chillies – which is believed to ward off evil spirits in Hindu culture – on a barbed wire is being shared on social media.
The claim: The photo is being shared with a sarcastic text, which mentions that the situation at the border was concerning because of which Singh installed some "advanced equipment at the border."
(Archives of more claims on social media can be seen here and here.)
The claim was viral in 2020 as well. Additionally, The Quint received a query for the photo's verification on its WhatsApp tipline.
But?: The photo is edited.
The original photo dates back to 2019 and shows Singh performing 'Shastra puja' on the Rafale fighter jets during the handover process in France.
How did we find out?: Using relevant keywords, we looked for the photograph.
This led us to a report from 2019 published by Scroll, which mentioned that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had tied lemons to some Rafale fighter jets.
The article said that it showed Singh conducting 'shastra puja' of the jets during the handover.
It carried a tweet shared by Singh's verified Twitter account which showed him in a similar outfit as the one seen in the viral claim.
It credited one of the article's photographs to the Associated Press.
Taking a cue from this, we looked for photos of the handover on AP's website.
Singh receives first lot of Rafale jets: We came across a similar photo showing Singh on an elevated surface on AP's website, where he is seen leaning towards a fighter jet.
This photo's description mentioned that it showed Singh at Dassault Aviation's plant in France during the handover of the first lot of the Rafale fighter jet, conducting a ritual ceremony.
One can see Singh standing in a similar position, with the man in a blue jacket standing behind him with a plate in both photos.
Moreover, there are no news reports of Singh tying lemons and chillies along India's borders.
Conclusion: A 2019 photo of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh taken during the handover of the Rafale fighter jets in France has been edited to show him tying lemons and chillies on barbed wire.
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