A WhatsApp forward claiming Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's father retired Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, has joined the Indian National Congress (Congress) is doing the rounds on social media.
Posts with similar claims can also be found on several Facebook fan pages supporting the party.
Almost all posts carry a message in Hindi which says, "The big news right now - Abhinandan's father joins Congress. The family has been accorded a warm welcome in the party).
( Translated from Hindi text - इस वक़्त की बड़ी खबर - अभिनन्दन के पिता कांग्रेस मे हुए शामिल कांग्रेस पार्टी मे परिवार का स्वागत है)
BOOM checked the Twitter handles of all the prominent leaders of the Congress party to check for updates on Abhinandan Varthaman's father, retired Air Marshal S Varthaman, joining the Congress party but could find none.
Retired Air Marshal S Varthman is a decorated officer of the Indian Air Force. A veteran of 1999 Kargil war, he has over 4,000 flying hours on as many as 40 types of aircraft to his credit. The retired Air Marshal has also donned a consultant's hat for film director Mani Ratnam's war drama Kaatru Veliyidai based on the backdrop of the Kargil war
Even the official Twitter handle of the party - @INCIndia - has no mention about S Varthaman coming into the party fold. In fact the last time Congress President mentioned about Abhinandan on his twitter was on March 1, when the IAF pilot had returned to India.
BOOM also reached out to the All India Congress Committee office in New Delhi and the Pradesh Congress Committee office in Tamil Nadu to fact check the claim. While the AICC office did not answer our calls, an official at the Tamil Nadu PCC office said that they would let us know if such a development takes place.