A black and white photo of two women sitting together wearing sarees is being shared with a claim that it shows late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
However, we found that the image showed Jayalalithaa sitting with Tamil writer and activist Sivasankari Chandrasekaran and not Sitharaman.
The photo went viral on social media with a message that read, ‘A rare photo of Jayalalithaa and our present Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’.
We found that the image had initially emerged in June 2020 when it was shared by multiple people on Facebook and Twitter. The image and the claim resurfaced in February 2021 and people started sharing it again.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We conducted a reverse image search of the viral photo on Google and found other Facebook users posting the same photo. However, they said that the woman in the photo was Tamil writer and activist Sivasankari Chandrasekaran and not Nirmala Sitharaman.
We looked up Jayalalithaa and Sivasankari and found posts about them that said that the two were friends. We found an article published in a local news website called DT Next, which talked about an episode from Thanthi TV's Jayalalithaa Enum Naan documentary and it carried some pictures of Jayalalithaa and Sivasankari.
Sivasankari is credited with writing over 36 novels, 48 short novels, 150 short stories, 15 travelogues, and biographies of Indira Gandhi and Sri GD Naidu.
In one of the images, we found a photo credit towards the bottom-left corner that said it was clicked by ‘Stills Ravi’. We found that ‘Stills Ravi’ is the pseudonym that photographer Ravi Varma V uses for his photos. We looked for his social media profiles and found that he had posted about the viral photo on 30 May 2020.
He posted screenshots of his messages where people asked if the woman on the right was in fact Sitharaman and he clarified that it was Sivasankari.
We also found a photo of Nirmala Sitharam from her college days in Tiruchirappalli that she posted on her Twitter profile. Comparing the two images it was clear that the woman sitting with Jayalalithaa was not Sitharaman.
Therefore, an image of Jayalalithaa and Tamil writer Sivasankari was shared with a false claim that it showed the former Tamil Nadu CM sitting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
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