Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
A photograph of a group of people standing with what appears to be the flags of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) is being widely shared on social media in the context of the farmers’ protest.
It is being falsely claimed that the woman at the centre, wearing a red top, is Dr Rajkumari Bansal, the same woman who had visited the Hathras victim’s family, was accused of having Naxal links and pretending to be her sister-in-law.
But, in reality, the two women are not the same and a false narrative is being created using the said picture. We could trace this picture back to February 2020, which makes it evident that it is not from the ongoing protests. Further, we spoke to Dr Bansal who called the claims "fake" and said that she has not participated in any of the ongoing protests.
The photograph is being shared with the insinuation that the protests are politically motivated and that those protesting are not "legitimate farmers". A user, whose tweet has garnered over 13,000 reactions and over 3,800 retweets alleged that the woman in the photograph is Dr Bansal.
Madhya Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gaurav Tiwari has also shared the image with a similar claim.
The claim has also been shared on various Facebook groups. A public group in the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which has over 498.7k members, shared the picture and wrote that Dr Bansal was seen in the farmers’ protest.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We conducted a reverse image search on the picture which directed us to a Twitter handle which had posted a clearer version of the photograph, albeit with the same false claim.
Using this image, we conducted another reverse search using Google search engine and came across the same picture on a page called ‘Tanha Rahi’ dated 25 September, 2020.
Taking a cue from the date and the flags held by the people in the picture, we looked up for the picture on BKU-Bharti Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan’s Facebook page and found that the image was posted on 10 February 2020.
The fact that the picture existed in February 2020 makes it clear that it can’t be from the ongoing protests. Further, the claim, based on the picture, that the woman who visited Hathras victim’s family is now at the farmers’ protests doesn’t add up. Though we have not been able to find out the context of the viral picture, it must be noted that the farm laws were passed by the Parliament in September 2020, to replace an Ordinance promulgated on 5 June.
Further, a facial comparison of the two women makes it evident that the two aren’t the same.
We further contacted Dr Bansal who denied attending the protests and said that the claims being made on social media are "fake".
Clearly, the images are being shared with a false claim to discredit the protesting farmers, without any evidence that the ones protesting aren’t farmers.