Cropped Screenshot Of The Wire Article On Durga Puja Is Misleading

The viral screenshot has been cropped from a longer story by the Wire which quotes Smriti Irani reading about an event held at JNU

A mischievously cropped screenshot of 2016 article by The Wire is circulating online falsely claiming the news website referred to the festival of Durga puja as 'racist' and called the Hindu goddess a 'sex worker'.

The screenshot is a tiny snippet of a news article from Feb 27, 2016 which quotes Union minister Smriti Irani as reading the said lines about Durga Puja in her Lok Sabha speech. Irani was reading the description of Durga Puja from a pamphlet which she claimed was distributed when students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) celebrated 'Mahishasur Martyrdom Day.'

The article is headlined Mahishasura and the Minister with the strapline saying, "Why the HRD minister's angry reference to 'Mahishasura Martyrdom Day' celebrations at JNU may raise more questions than she likes."

The screenshot is being shared as several parts of India are celebrating Durga puja and Navratri, both festivals celebrating the goddess Durga.

The same cropped screenshot is viral with captions on Twitter.

The text in the viral screenshot reads, "Durga Puja is the most controversial racial festival, where a fair skinned beautiful goddess Durga is depicted brutally killing a dark-skinned native called Mahishasura. Mahishasura, a brave self-respecting leader, was tricked into marriage by the Aryans. They hired a sex worker called Durga, who enticed Mahishasura into marriage and killed him after nine nights of honeymooning, during sleep."


We searched for the lines in the screenshot and found that the story is from Feb 27, 2016 when JNU saw massive protests between two factions of student unions with several students arrested and some charged with sedition including Kanhaiya Kumar. The Bhartiya Janata Party led government received criticism for his handling of the JNU students, with the government maintaining that the arrested students were shouting anti-national slogans and indulging in 'anti-India activities,.

Irani referred to the criticism of the government's dealing of the JNU issue and cited anti-national events happening at the university in her Lok Sabha speech from February 24, 2016. As an example of these alleged anti-national activities, Irani, referred to students celebrating Mahishasur Martyrdom Day and read from a pamphlet which said was distributed by the organisers.

The Wire story reads, "In her Lok Sabha speech on Wednesday, HRD minister Smriti Irani responded to criticism of the government's handling of recent events in JNU by alleging that several "anti-national" events had taken place at the campus. The celebration of 'Mahishasur Martyrdom Day' featured on this list. Asking her "god to forgive" her, she read from a pamphlet allegedly brought out by the organisers of the event:" It then quotes Irani reading lines seen in the viral screenshot.

The Wire attributes the said lines to Irani who in turn is reading from a pamphlet which she alleged was distributed by the organisers behind the Mahishasur Martyrdom Day event.

We also searched for the same speech and found the same uploaded on February 24, 2016 on the official channel of the Bharatiya Janata Party on YouTube. In the speech, Irani can be seen listing events, meetings allegedly held by the JNU students union which are anti national in nature and there she picks up a notice which she claims was stuck across college on the night on Feb 10, 2016 which reads, "The public meeting was also disrupted for Mahishasur Martyrdom day". She then goes on to explain that she looked into what is Mahishasur Martyrdom day and says, "May my god forgive me for reading this".

She then goes on to read the same lines from the said pamphlet which Irani claims was issued by the SC, ST, OBC and minority students of JNU and also ends it with, "What is this depraved mentality. I have no answers for this"

The full story done by The Wire can be read here.

BOOM also reached out to Siddharth Varadarajan, founding editor of The Wire who directed us to a tweet by him which explained that the screenshot is a "quote of Smriti Irani, as HRD min in Feb 2016, reading out in parliament extracts from what she said was a JNU pamphlet."

Updated On: 2020-10-28T13:21:10+05:30
Claim Review :   The Wire called Durga puja racist and the goddess Durga a sex worker..
Claimed By :  Twitter users
Fact Check :  False
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