Social media posts claiming former Gujarat University Vice-Chancellor Professor KS Shastri, whose signature is seen on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Masters's degree, passed away in 1981, two years before the certificate was issued, is false.
BOOM found that the claim is entirely false. The screenshot used to make the claim shows the tenure of Shastri as vice-chancellor of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, and not the dates of his birth and death.
The false claim was made by several Congress supporters on Twitter and Facebook.
Anil Patel, whose bio states that he is a Congress supporter and a social activist, tweeted a collage of two images - one showing a copy of the prime minister's degree and the other showing a sepia screenshot of Shastri along with the dates 22-08-1980 to 13-07-1981 in brackets.
Patel, tweeted the collage with a Hindi caption, which claims, "Vice Chancellor KS Shastri who signed the prime minister's degree died in 1981, so how did the degree get printed after?"
(Original text - प्रधानमंत्री की डिग्री पर हस्ताक्षर करनेवाले वाईस चांसलर K S शास्त्री का निधन 1981 में हो चुका था...तो उसके बाद डिग्री कैसे प्रिंट हुआ ?)
The issue of the prime minister's educational qualification was raked up once again after a recent ruling of the Gujarat High Court. The high court ruled in favour of Gujarat University which challenged a 2016 order by the Chief Information Commission (CIC) to make public the PM's degree. The CIC's order was in response to a Right To Information (RTI) request made by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The high court ruled in favour of the university and imposed a fine of Rs. 25,000 on Kejriwal. Read more about it here.
Since then multiple opposition leaders have questioned the authenticity of the prime minister's degree
In 2016, the BJP released photocopies of the prime minister's Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree certificate from Delhi University and Master of Arts (MA) degree certificate from Gujarat University. The photocopy of the MA certificate states that it is a duplicate copy and also shows the signature of KS Shastri Click here.
Without getting into the authenticity of the degree, our findings show the claim that former Vice Chancellor KS Shastri, whose signature is seen on the prime minister's Master's degree certificate copy, died in 1981 is false.
The dates mentioned in the image show Shastri's tenure at another university and not his date of birth and date of his death.
Using search operators we did a boolean search with the keywords "KS Shastri" AND "Gujarat University", which showed us a PDF document by Gujarat University listing previous vice-chancellors of the university.
The PDF shows Professor KS Shastri was Gujarat University's Chancellor from 1981 to 1987. Click here to view the PDF.
The same search also led us to the website of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University. The same photograph that is now viral has been taken from the website. View an archive here. The website shows that Shastri was vice-chancellor of VNSGU from 22-08-1980 to 13-07-1981.
We also found a number of news articles about KS Shastri after his tenure at Gujarat University ended.
In November 2003, a Times of India (TOI) article reported KS Shastri, his son Pragnesh and MP Jadiya -a former registrar, were arrested on allegations of corruption, cheating and forgery, where the former vice chancellor was accused of effecting an arbitrary and illegal fee hike.
"As president of the Gujarat State University and College Teachers Association, Shastri had recently led Maha Gujarat Navnirman agitation against the Modi government," TOI reported.
Another TOI story from June 2012 reported that Shastri was ousted from the post of president of the Gujarat University Teachers' Association (GUTA) an umbrella body of college teachers of the university. Read about it here.
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