A set of two photos, one showing a patient's leg with a simple dressing and another photo of the same man with a plaster around the same leg, is being shared with a misleading claim that his injuries are fake and the plaster added only before the arrival of Prime Mininster Narendra Modi on November 1, 2022.
Following the collapse of a suspension bridge in Morbi, Gujarat on the evening of October 30, 2022, which led to the deaths of more than 130 people, several survivors were rushed to GREMS general hosptal.
One of the patients - Ashwin, who sustained injuries and seen in the viral photos was interviewed by media organisations present on October 31, 2022 and was also photographed with PM Modi when he visited the hospital the next day.
BOOM spoke to Ashwin who denied the claims being made around him wearing the plaster and explained that on the first day, the evening of October 30, 2022, when he was brought into the hospital, he was given pain medication and a basic dressing done to his leg and the next day, upon more tests following severe pain, his leg was put in a plaster.
We were also able to determine the sequence of events which shows that Ashwin's leg was plastered on October 31, 2022, the day after he was rushed to the hospital from the bridge collapse, and not on November 1, 2022, when PM Modi was visiting the hospital.
Several social media users including journalist Swati Chaturvedi shared a collage of two photos, one showing his leg in a dressing with the text - October 31, 2022, and the second photo of his leg in a plaster with the text - November 1, 2022, insinuating that the injuries were exaggerated and faked for Modi's visit.
Chaturvedi tweeted the collage with the caption, "The permanent patient. How come the same gent met Vaghela & then Modi today? Is this the Gujarat model?"
This was a reference to Modi's visit and former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela's visit to the hospital on October 31, 2022.
Abhijeet Dipke tweeted the collage with the capton, "Patients are also getting a new plaster before Modi's arrival at the hospital in #Morbi."
BOOM spoke to Ashwin who rubbished the claims stating that after his leg started hurting more on October 31, 2022 and by the same evening the dressing was removed and a plaster wrapped around it.
Speaking to BOOM, Ashwin narrated the sequence of events for October 30 and October 31 - the day he was brought to the hospital and the next day.
He told us that he was admitted to the hospital on October 30, 2022 after sustaining injuries in the Morbi bridge collapse. At the hospital, as part of the initial treatment, a painkiller injection was administered and a dressing wrapped around his leg injury. Ashwin explains that the same evening, the doctor advised that his leg should be wrapped in a plaster, but since the pain had reduced, he opted to not do it and was instead discharged.
"Injection is given so that somebody who has a crack on their leg does not feel pain. Basically, it does not pain due to the painkiller in the injection. So when I got it, I did not complain of any pain."
He then explained that the next day at home on October 31, 2022, he felt severe pain in his leg and was unable to move. "I was brought back to the hospital by my family and admitted again. A few hours later, in, at around 4-5 pm it started hurting when I went to the bathroom. The doctors checked the injury again and said that I will need a plaster. The doctor recommended that the dressing be removed and a plaster put around the leg. The doctor said I will have to keep it for 15 days."
We were also able to piece together visual evidence which shows the sequence of events and found that it matches with what Ashwin told us about when the plaster was added to his leg.
In a photo tweeted by NDTV reporter, Tanushree Pandey, on the afternoon of October 31, 2002 at around 2.46 pm shows Ashwin's leg with a dressing.
The same night on October 31, 2022, news outlet Lallantop visited the hospital and did a story on the hospital staff sprucing up the interiors late into the night in preparation for Modi's visit. In the video story, the reporter at the 49 second time stamp states the time as 11.48 pm to emphasise on how the hospital is cleaning the hospital.
A few minutes later, at the 3 minute 53 second timestamp, the reporter interviews Ashwin who is on the bed. In this, Ashwin's leg is clearly seen in a plaster.
Modi visited the hospital on November 1, 2022 and in photos shared by media outlets, is seen speaking to Ashwin. The plaster around his leg was added a day before Modi's visit.
Ashwin is again interviewed by Lallantop reporter Abhinav Pandey which is tweeted at 10.34 pm where he dismisses the claims that the dressing was replaced by the plaster for Modi's visit. In the interview, he tells the reporter that an X-ray was taken the second day, and the doctor recommended the plaster for the leg.
Speaking to BOOM, Ashwin said constant questions from mediapersons about the viral claims are adding to his ordeal.
"People from the media come and ask me: 'If you had the small bandage how did you end up with the big one?' And I am telling them the same thing -- that it was changed on the second day because of increasing pain. I don't excatly remember the details like date, time, what happened, and all those things as what I have been through. I was given the paata (dressing) as soon as I was taken to the hospital. The incident happened in the evening around 6.30pm. I came to the hospital and there were dead bodies. There was traffic too… my friend lost eight family members, he said they wanted to go home so we did the same night of October 30, 2022. When I woke up in the morning, I was unable to move my leg and I was brought to the hospital again and they added the plaster after tests."