Recently, social media users have been circulating a photo, purportedly of famed Mughal emperor Akbar. The black-and-white image is being shared alongside another photo of actor Rajat Tokas, who played Akbar in the television serial ‘Jodha Akbar’. It is being claimed that Akbar was physically weak in real life, but ‘leftist forces’ have depicted him as a powerful ruler onscreen. Users have been taking pot-shots at the ancient leader while sharing the viral collage. Twitter user Divyaba Jadeja wrote in one such post, “The Left told us that Akbar was great, but the truth is he was the complete opposite!” It racked up more than 800 retweets at the time of writing. (Archive link)
वामपंथी दोगलों ने हमें पढ़ाया अकबर महान था
बल्कि सच्चाई बिल्कुल विपरीत थी..!
𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗔𝗸𝗯𝗿 𝗪𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗵𝗶’𝘀 𝗔𝗸𝗯𝗮𝗿 pic.twitter.com/pMe4s7E8s7
— *𝗗𝐢𝐯𝐲𝐚𝐁𝐚 𝐉𝐚𝐃𝐞𝐉𝐚* (@Raajputani) January 19, 2021
Another Twitter user named Pandit Pranshu Dwivedi also posted the image and accompanying claim.
The first photo ever taken with a camera was in France sometime between 1826 and 1827, whereas Akbar died in 1605. Therefore, this cannot be a picture of the Mughal king. The next step was to identify the man in the image.
Alt News performed a Google reverse image search and found this photo on the Indian Culture portal of the Indian government. The website states that the person appearing in the collage is Mirza Shah Abbas, the son of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor. Mirza Jawan Bakht (left), Bahadur Shah Zafar’s second son is also in the picture. The website mentions that the picture was taken in the 1850-60s. It is to be noted that Akbar was born in 1542 and died in 1605, whereas his Mirza Shah Abbas was born in 1845 and died in 1910.
Another reverse image search using Yandex led us to the website of SOAS University of London. The viral image was found in a collection of photographs from 1850 to 1900. According to the website, this picture was taken in 1858 and was part of the Howard and Jane Ricketts’ Collection. These photos from India were exhibited in London from October 11 to December 15, 2001.
The Ricketts were 19th-century photography experts from Britain. They began collecting photographs of 19th-century India in 1972.
Therefore, a picture of Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar’s son Mirza Shah Abbas was falsely shared on social media as his Akbar.
[Update: Mirza Shah Abbas was referred to as Akbar’s grandson in the story. He is the grandson of Akbar II while the story is about Akbar I. The same has been corrected in the report.]