ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

No, First Telephone in Guj Was Not Installed For MK Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram

We found that the first telephone service in Ahmedabad was installed in 1897, before Gandhi returned to India.

Published
WebQoof
4 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

A picture of Mahatma Gandhi holding a telephone is being shared on the internet with a claim stating that the first telephone in Gujarat was installed at Sabarmati Ashram.

What have users said?: Those sharing the claim have uploaded it with a caption in Hindi that mentioned, "Today a news information was received that the first telephone in Gujarat was not installed at the house of any big industrial mill owner but on Gandhiji's table in Sabarmati Ashram."

  • It also said that the telephone line was installed by the Britishers who spent lakhs to ensure they could speak to Gandhi.

We found that the first telephone service in Ahmedabad was installed in 1897, before Gandhi returned to India.

An archive of the post can be seen here.

(Source: X/Screenshot)

We received a query about the viral claim on our WhatsApp tipline. More archives of similar claims can be found here, here, and here.

Are these claims true?: The claim is misleading.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD
  • The picture is available on Getty Images, which said that it was taken at Sevagram Ashram in Maharashtra in 1941.

  • According to historical evidence, the first telephone line in Gujarat was installed in 1897 at Ahmedabad and had 34 subscribers.

  • It should be noted that Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915, almost 17 years after the installation of the first telephone in the state.

Where is the image from?: A simple reverse image search led us to the same image uploaded on Getty Images.

  • Its caption said, "Indian statesman and activist Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 - 1948) on the phone at Sevagram Ashram, India, 1941."

We found that the first telephone service in Ahmedabad was installed in 1897, before Gandhi returned to India.

The creation date for this image was mentioned as 1 January 1941.

(Source: Getty Images/Screenshot)

  • Sevagram Ashram is located in Maharashtra, where Gandhi stayed from 1936 to 1948.

  • A video available on the Ashram's website takes a tour of the area.

  • At the 10:16 mark in this video, it mentions that the then-Viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow had installed a telephone at the Ashram "for his convenience," to communicate with Gandhi.

  • This shows that the claim is misleading as the picture of Gandhi is from Maharashtra and not Gujarat.

Telephone history in India: According to Calcutta BSNL website, the Government of India granted license to the Oriental Telephone Company Limited of England for opening Telephone Exchanges at Bombay (Mumbai), Calcutta (Kolkata), Madras (Chennai), Karachi, and Ahmedabad.

  • Member of Governor General's Council, Major E Baring, declared open the Telephone Exchange in Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay on 28 January 1882.

  • According to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) website, "within seven years its [telephone] invention, the telephone exchanges were established in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta."

We found that the first telephone service in Ahmedabad was installed in 1897, before Gandhi returned to India.

The website also said that automatic telephones first came to India in 1914 at Shimla.

(Source: MIB/Screenshot)

  • A report in ETV Bharat said that Kolkata, Madras, and Bombay became the early subscribers of telephone services, along with a telephone exchange in Ahmedabad.

Telephone services in Ahmedabad: We found an article in DNA India which was headlined, "Ahmedabad should be a place where life grows: BV Doshi."

  • The article said that the Bombay Telephone Company inaugurated its services in Ahmedabad in 1897.

  • We performed a keyword search and came across the official website of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

  • It said that the telephone service was started in 1897 under the 19th century section.

We found that the first telephone service in Ahmedabad was installed in 1897, before Gandhi returned to India.

The website carried a chronology of events in Ahmedabad.

(Source: Ahmedabad city/Screenshot/Altered by The Quint)

  • Next, we found a gazette published by the Government of Gujarat. It was published in 1984 and was available on Indian Culture website.

  • Under the 'Telephones' section, the gazette said that the "first magneto exchange was inaugurated for the Ahmadabad (Ahmedabad) city near the Panchkuva gate on 17 July 1897. It had 34 subscribers."

We found that the first telephone service in Ahmedabad was installed in 1897, before Gandhi returned to India.

The text could be found on page 488.

(Source: Indian Culture website/Screenshot)

Conclusion: This clearly proves that telephone services were installed in Ahmedabad in 1897, which predates Gandhi's return to India. Gandhi's image in the viral claim is from Sevagram, Maharashtra.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More
×
×