A clipping that has been floating on social media the last few years has resurfaced this election season. It talks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and alleged incidents from his childhood. “मोदी के भाई बहन नरेंद्र मोदी को ही अपने पिताजी के मौत का जिम्मेदार मानते है (Modi’s brothers and sister blame Narendra Modi for their father’s death),” the clipping is headlined.

It says that PM Modi’s father, Damodardas Mulchand Modi, used to make ends meet by pickpocketing and stealing coal and iron from the railway station where he worked as a tea seller. He traded the stolen items for gold, which, in turn, were stolen by Narendra Modi when he was a young boy. His father, unable to cope with his son’s actions, suffered a cardiac arrest. The family could not get back the stolen gold despite lodging an FIR and Damodardas Mulchand Modi subsequently died because his family could afford the medical expenses. The story ends by claiming that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee suppressed the case and the FIR against Narendra Modi in 1996.

The elaborate tale is being shared by multiple users on social media.

It has been shared on Facebook by quite a few users.

स्टेशन पर चाय बेचने वाले ने चुराए थे 300 रुपये बड़नगर पुलिस ने पकड़ा 6 महीने की सजा हुई थी। रेल्वे का लोहा और कोयला भी…

Posted by Sujit kumar on Sunday, 5 May 2019

The claim has been floating on WhatsApp as well.

The oldest instance of the story that Alt News found was a 2017 post by one Velaram M Patel whose Facebook bio says that he is a member of Congress.

सब के मन में यह सवाल बार बार उठता होगा नरेंद्र मोदी अपने पिता का नाम क्यों नहीं लेते… रेल्वे स्टेशन पर चाय बेचते समय…

Posted by Velaram M. Patel on Thursday, 8 June 2017

Statement of PM Modi’s family

Alt News contacted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers for comments. His elder brother Soma Modi said, “My father had bone cancer and died in 1989.” He added that Narendra Modi was at Kailash Mansarovar Yatra at the time. “Narendra came back home and gave father prasad from Mansarovar. Father passed away the next day,” he continued.

This information was reiterated by PM Modi’s younger brother Prahlad Modi in a separate conversation with Alt News. “This is completely false,” he asserted. “Our father died in 1989 of bone cancer. Narendra was an RSS pracharak at the time and was home for father’s funeral.”

We also contacted the Prime Minister’s biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay who gave us information similar to the statements of PM Modi’s family. “To the best of my knowledge and the conversations I’ve had Mr Modi during the time I was researching for my book, he’d said that his father died in 1989-90.”

Posted below are screenshots of excerpts from Mukhopadhyay’s biography of PM Modi – ‘Narendra Modi: The Man, the Times.’ According to the book, Narendra Modi left his village and broke away from his family in 1967. He came home for a few hours in 1989 when his father passed away.

At another point, the book also says that Narendra Modi had just returned from his pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar when his father was on his death bed. “I gave him sacred water from Mansarovar,” the book quotes PM Modi. It adds that in 1989, when Damodardas Mulchand passed away, Narendra Modi was General Secretary, Organisation of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The approximate date of Damodardas Mulchand’s demise was also stated by the Prime Minister in a 2018 speech when he said that his father died “30 years ago”.

PM Modi’s statements and those given by his family members to Alt News are sufficient to debunk the viral clipping.

Firstly, the cutout claims that PM Modi’s brothers and sister blame him for their father’s demise, alleging that he died of a heart attack unable to cope with the shock that Narendra Modi stole his gold. This is false as the family members stated that their father died of bone cancer and not cardiac arrest.

Secondly, the cutout claims that Damodardas Mulchand passed away when PM Modi was in his childhood. As per his family members, their father died in 1989 therefore, PM Modi could not have been a teenager at the time. The Prime Minister was born in 1950 and would’ve been nearly 40 years of age at the time of his father’s demise.

A concocted tale

There are several clues hidden in the clipping itself which suggest its ingenuity.

1. At first glance, the clipping appears to be a newspaper cutout. But it isn’t. While the story has been aligned similar to articles published in newspapers, the report is not dated. Furthermore, the story gives out information that is not backed by factual data like dates, time and place. It says Narendra Modi stole his father’s gold, however, fails to mention his age or the year of the alleged incident. All that it does is give readers a photograph of PM Modi as a young boy. This could be interpreted as visual manipulation. While the story itself does not reveal his age, the picture causes the reader to infer that the Prime Minister must have been a teenager when the incident took place. Furthermore, the clipping says that his father died of a heart attack. But it does not give away the year of the death.

2. If one tries to look up the alleged incident on Google, the search engine does not throw up any results.

3. There are several spelling errors in the article. For instance, ‘पुलिस’ is written as ‘पोलिस’ in multiple places. The word ‘पकड़ा’ is spelt as ‘पकडा’. Many sentences in the article do not end with a purn viraam (full-stop) but ellipsis (series of dots).

The elaborate story of PM Modi’s father being a petty thief and the Prime Minister stealing his gold, causing his father to die of a heart attack, is baseless. There is no evidence to support these claims.

About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.