A new development in the Hathras case came on October 10, when it was reported that a woman had stayed at the victim’s house, allegedly posing as her sister-in-law. She was later identified as Rajkumari Bansal, a doctor from Jabalpur. Since then, she was also accused of being a Naxalite and tutoring the family. Responding to these allegations, Bansal said that she went to the house for humanitarian reasons and her sole motive was to help them.
Following this, several BJP leaders tweeted a picture of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra purportedly showing her embracing the same ‘fake sister-in-law’. Taking to Twitter, the national social media in-charge of BJP Mahila Morcha Priti Gandhi attacked Rahul Gandhi and Vadra for their alleged conspiracy. She accused the brother-sister duo of consoling the Naxal operative who had infiltrated the family’s home and was posing as the victim’s sister-in-law.
So the family that Priyanka & Rahul Gandhi were seen hugging & consoling was infiltrated by a naxal operative who posed as the victim’s bhabhi, stayed in their home from 16th to 22nd Sept & has now mysteriously vanished!! The level of this conspiracy is horrifying!! #HathrasCasepic.twitter.com/eZSQISCPh2
— Priti Gandhi – प्रीति गांधी (@MrsGandhi) October 10, 2020
Former BJP MP Geetha Kothapalli also tweeted the image, writing, “Who is this lady? She is not [the] mother of the victim how did she get into their home? How was [she] given a chance to hug Priyanka? The same lady was interviewed by Barkha Dutt too…this seems like a well-planned conspiracy…what do you think? (sic).”
Who is this lady ? She is not mother of the victim how did she got into their home ? How was given a chance to hug Priyanka ? The same lady was interviewed by @BDUTT too .. this seems like a well planned conspiracy .. what do you think ? #FakeNaxalBhabhipic.twitter.com/nuJpM0FwhU
— Geetha Kothapalli (@Geethak_MP) October 10, 2020
Saurabh Khamar of BJP Andhra Pradesh’s IT cell also tweeted the photo and wrote, “Is fake Gandhi hugging Fake Naxal Bhabhi?” Several Twitter users with followers around the 1 lakh mark, including Arun Pudur, Pinku Shukla, and @iArmySupporter also shared the picture with these claims.
On Facebook, a page named Social Tamasha shared photos of the hug and wrote, “Fake Gandhi with fake sister-in-law.” This page has been caught spreading misinformation many times in the past.
फेक गांधी Vs फेक भाभी 😎
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi met the victim’s family on October 3. A number of media houses uploaded pictures and video footage of this meeting. An India Today report from the same day stated that Priyanka Gandhi was hugging the Hathras victim’s mother.
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) October 3, 2020
News agency ANI and journalist Marya Shakil also tweeted a video of the two women embracing on October 3. Shakil wrote in her caption, “Emotional moment in Bhoolgarhi village in Hathras. Victim’s mother hugs Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.”
— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) October 3, 2020
That Vadra is indeed hugging the victim’s mother can be established by a closer look at the sari she is wearing. Since the image does not show the woman’s face, Alt News used visuals obtained by other media houses and journalists that spoke to her. On October 3, Barkha Dutt tweeted a picture with the victim’s mother. Here, she is seen in the same sari that she wore while hugging Priyanka. India Today also spoke to the victim’s mother and brother on the same day. In this video too, she is seen wearing the same sari.
Furthermore, the victim’s mother was interviewed by Times Now on September 30, where she can again be seen in the same sari.
#Exclusive | Mother of the victim from Hathras asks ‘till when will such things happen?’
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) September 30, 2020
Therefore, the woman Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was seen hugging in the viral photo was the victim’s mother. Earlier, certain individuals associated with the BJP falsely shared a photo of Rahul Gandhi alleging that he grabbed a policeman’s collar while trying to reach Hathras. The Congress has been targetted with misinformation since the party’s criticism of the UP government’s handling of the alleged rape case.