Two photos of extremely large gatherings are viral on social media. They are being shared as visuals of the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ led by Rahul Gandhi.
Congress leader Ritu Chowdhary shared these pictures in connection with the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. (Archived link)
Gujarat Congress secretary Ramkishan Ojha also claimed that these pictures were from the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. He wrote that the crowd seen in the images consisted of locals who had gathered to welcome Rahul Gandhi in Jhalawar, Rajasthan. (Archived link)
Congress MLA Manoj Chawla, who represents the Alot assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam district, claimed in a Facebook post that the visuals showed the size of the crowd that had gathered for the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Rajasthan.
Alt News performed a reverse image search of the viral photos on Google and found one of the above images on Pankaj Maharaj’s Twitter timeline. The accompanying post mentions that this picture was taken during Guru Maharaj’s Bhandara program held on December 3.
जयगुरुदेव 3 dec 2022
पूज्य दादा गुरु महाराज के पावन भंडारे के कार्यक्रम में उमड़ा आस्था का महा मानव जन सैलाब pic.twitter.com/czBloXNBpo
— pankaj ji mahraaj (@mahraajpankaj) December 3, 2022
The similarities between the viral image and the visual from the Bhandara program can be seen more clearly in the side-by-side comparison given below.
Alt News examined Maharaj’s Twitter timeline to investigate the authenticity of the second picture. While sharing a group of photos he claimed in a separate tweet that this was taken at the Jai Gurudev Ashram located in Mathura.
Upon closer examination, Alt News noticed that one of these pictures closely tweeted by Maharaj resembles the other viral image. A side-by-side comparison is given below. We found that both the images were taken at the same occasion and place, however, from different angles. In other words, this picture was not taken at the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, but during the Bhandara programme organized at the Jai Gurudev Ashram in Mathura.
We performed a keyword search on YouTube, which led us to a video of a satsang held by Pankaj Maharaj in Mathura. The ceremony was streamed live on December 3. Many frames from this stream match the image in question.
For example, in the visual comparison below, it can be seen that the screengrab which appears at the 40:10 mark of the livestream is nearly identical to the viral image.
To sum it up, a number of leaders associated with the Congress falsely shared a picture of a crowd gathered at the Bhandara organized at the Jai Gurudev Ashram in Mathura linking it to turnout at the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.