An image of a gender rights activist at a LGBTQ+ pride walk in Kolkata has gone viral with the false claim that it shows ‘progressive’ students of Jawaharlal Nehru University protesting against “Hindu culture.”
The image is of Panchali Kar, a theatre practitioner and a gender rights activist, from the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk which took place in 2019. Speaking to The Quint’s WebQoof team, Kar stated that they are not affiliated to JNU in anyway. They also stated that the image is from a pride walk, which is about expressing oneself and is not against the Hindu culture.
The image was shared by several social media users with the claim,
“ये JNU के प्रगतिशील छात्र है इनका विरोध है कि हिन्दू महिलाएं साड़ी, बिंदी, ओर सिंदूर क्यो लगाती है ...इसका विरोध करने सड़क पर निकले है...रुकिए रुकिए...कहानी अभी खत्म नही हुए...पीछे नजर घुमाईये....एक लड़का एक शास्त्रीय ड्रेस (भगवा धोती, कुर्ता) पहने है और नाक में बाली ओर मांग में सिंदूर डाले है .....उसका यह विरोध है कि यह ड्रेस महिलाओं की है ओर इसका विरोध पुरुषों को करना चाहिए...”
(Translation: “They are progressive students of JNU, they are opposed to Hindu women wearing saris, bindi, and sindoor. They have come out on the road to protest it. Wait, the story is not over yet. Look at the back. A boy is wearing a classical dress (saffron dhoti and kurta) and has earrings in his nose and vermilion, demanding that this dress is for women and men should oppose it.”)
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
On a reverse image search, we came across a blog in Bangla, ‘Khaskhobor,’ which carried this image, identifying the person in the image as Panchali Kar.
We found Kar’s Instagram profile, where they had shared the viral image on 30 December 2019, with the caption, “Pride snippets.” The location was marked as Baghbazar street in Kolkata.
They had also shared the image on their Facebook profile, along with another image in the same outfit, captioned, “Pride 2019.”
The Quint’s WebQoof team then reached out to Kar, who told us that the image or the pride walk had nothing to do with JNU.
“I am not affiliated to JNU neither have I been a student there. The image is from a pride walk which is about expressing oneself and is not against the Hindu culture,” Kar stated.
We also found an article on Youth Ki Awaz about the 2019 edition of Kolkata’s Rainbow Pride Walk, carrying Kar’s picture. According to the article, the LGBTQ+ community had also demonstrated against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“Yes, anti-CAA and anti-NRC posters were there at the pride walk, because while pride is mostly about LGBTQ+ freedom, from an intersectional feminist perspective, it also stands for anybody who is a minority,” Kar told this reporter.
The Times of India had also reported on 30 December 2019 of the same pride walk from Md Ali Park to Baghbazar, which demonstrated against transphobia, queerphobia and CAA.
Evidently, an image of a gender rights activist from a pride walk in Kolkata has been falsely shared as JNU students protesting against Hindu culture.