An old image of Congress member and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar with a fellow student has resurfaced with distasteful captions, misidentifying the latter as his teacher.
The image, which shows the woman, identified as Saumya Mani Tripathi, sitting besides Kumar, is viral on Facebook pages with a caption claiming that Kumar and his teacher are in a relationship. Facebook posts have linked the image to Kumar's entry in politics and thereby moving on to the Congress party.
The caption in Hindi translates to, "Everyone must be recognizing this man. Our JNU's Kanhaiya. This man was so poor and exploited that he used to study by making the teacher sit on his lap, but he has still been unable to complete his PhD. When his hand got tired, he held the hand of Congress, now probably they are working with him."
(Original text in Hindi: यह भाई साब को तो सब पहचानते ही होंगे अपने JNU वाले कन्हैया ...ये इतने गरीब और शोषित थे की शिक्षिका को कायदे से गोद मे लेकर पढ़ते थे... फिर भी बिना पी एच डी पूरी नहीं कर पाए, जब इनका खुद का हाथ थक गया तो कांग्रेस का हाथ थाम लिया, अब शायद उसी से काम चला रहे है )
BOOM Bangla debunked the same image, which was viral in April, 2019, with a Bangla narrative.
When we ran a reverse image search on the photograph we found articles debunking the same claim from as early as 2016.
According to a Deccan Chronicle article published on March 11, 2016, the image was viral soon after Kanhaiya Kumar, the then president of JNUSU, made headlines after he was arrested by Delhi Police over charges of sedition in an event at the JNU campus. Deccan Chronicle identified the woman as Saumya Mani Tripathi, a JNU scholar.
An excerpt from the article reads, "The picture had Kanhaiya along with his female friend Saumya Mani Tripathi, a JNU student, sitting beside her with gestures extremely amiable. Though the photo doesn't hint at anything illicit between the two, social media is being flooded with assumptions of Kanhaiya's alleged closeness with the aforementioned friend."
Kumar refers to the same photograph that was reportedly published in a newspaper and says, "The report says that we are doing something wrong, based on the photograph. You can tell, that is it wrong to even click pictures with a friend? After the photo (became viral) people with Sanghi mindset, who want to defame JNU, have been spreading rumours. This has hurt her and her family."
The video can be seen below.
According to a NewsLaundry article published on March 9, 2016, the photograph was published on a page named Main Desh Nahin Jhukne Dunga on March 5 and reposted on March 8 with a claim that the viral photo 'exposes Kumar'. It further stated that the woman was misidentified as Kumar's teacher by a Punjab Kesari article. In a video interview to NL, Kumar clarified, "This woman, with whom I had clicked a photo, is a student. She has been misidentified as teacher and people are saying how she has been sitting on my lap to teach me. She is my friend. She was sitting on the sofa set's handle. This is a character assassination."
Further, Deccan Chronicle also shared a screenshot of a purported Facebook post by Saumya Mani Tripathi, who clarified, "People's sick mentality saddens me. The photo is like any other normal photo. The way it has been put forth on various platforms isn't acceptable. I don't think so I have committed any wrong by clicking a picture with Kanhaiya. I would also like to clarify that I am a research scholar at JNU and not a professor."
BOOM could not independently verify the same.
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