A photograph of a woman panellist in a press conference held by Goa Pradesh Congress Committee was shared by Chayan Chatterjee, great-grandson of former Calcutta University vice-chancellor Ashutosh Mukherjee. He claimed that the woman is ‘fake Naxal bhabhi’ who hugged Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi in Hathras. Chatterjee’s tweet drew over 3,000 retweets and more than 7,000 likes.
On October 3, Priyanka Gandhi had visited the family of a Dalit woman who died after being allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras. Chatterjee’s post alleges that Gandhi hugged a woman at the victim’s residence who is associated with the Congress but posed as a family member. Renuka Jain and Arun Pudur claimed the same.
Twitter user @AshishJaggi_1 identified the woman in the panel as ‘Dr Rajkumari Bansal’ and referred to her as #FakeNaxalBhabhi. The context behind the term will be discussed later in the report.
Facebook page The Right Voice also shared the image along with a picture of Gandhi hugging a saree-clad woman.
In an earlier fact-check, Alt News had debunked identical false claim however circulating without the photo of the Congress panellist. A picture of Gandhi hugging Hathras victim’s mother was misused to claim the woman was ‘fake Naxal bhabhi’.
Alt News rummaged through the Facebook page of Goa Congress and found a press conference video where the same woman can be spotted in a black saree. The press conference was held on the Hathras case. The woman has been identified as Pratibha Borkar, social media head of the committee.
Press Conference by Senior Congress leader Shambhu Bhau Bandekar, Vithu Morajkar (Spokesperson) and Pratibha Borkar at Congress House, Panjim.
Posted by Indian National Congress – Goa on Wednesday, 30 September 2020
In the viral image, Borkar and the other panellists are not wearing masks which suggests that this press conference was held prior to at least March 2020. We found that it was uploaded on September 2019.
Borkar has the same picture currently viral as her cover photo on Facebook.
Now coming to ‘fake Naxal bhabhi’. The term is used for Dr Rajkumari Bansal who was accused by Hathras police for posing as a relative of the victim’s family and feeding them statements to give to the cops. A News18 report claimed that she was posing as the victim’s bhabhi (sister-in-law). Dr Bansal is an assistant professor at the forensic department of Jabalpur medical college. She claimed that her visit was for humanitarian reasons and she wanted to examine documents pertaining to the deceased’s medical treatment considering her forensic expertise. Dr Bansal also said that she was providing the family financial assistance. She was accused by some media outlets of being a Naxalite, a claim that she has denied.
A quick facial comparison of Dr Bansal and Pratibha Borkar proves they are different people. The most evidently contrasting feature is their nose.
Jabalpur-based Dr Rajkumari Bansal was misidentified as Congress member Pratibha Borkar to claim that a woman associated with the party posed as Hathras victim’s family member whom Priyanka Gandhi hugged. There are more than enough media reports that Gandhi had hugged the victim’s mother.