How an unidentified family photo first became Kalam’s, then Modi’s childhood picture

A photograph of a young boy and a woman was shared on social media with the narrative that it was the childhood photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his mother, Hiraben. A Facebook user posted this photograph with a caption, “Jai Dev, Childhood photo graph of Narendra Modi ji with her mother”. The text inscribed in the image said, “यही है वो बच्चा , जिससने 132 करोड लोगोंको हिलाकर रखदिया नरेन्द्र मोदी अपनी माँ हिराबेन के साथ (This is the child, who shook 132 crores, Narendra Modi with his mother -translated)”.

Several individuals users on Twitter and WhatsApp had shared the image with the same claim.

Fact-check

Upon reverse searching the image on Google, Alt News found that the child seen in the photograph is not Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Several media outlets published the image as a still from Kalam’s childhood. An article published by India Today on May 8, 2016, had captioned the photograph as, “Ashiamma Jainulabiddin, mother of APJ Abdul Kalam”.

We also found that the image was cropped out of a bigger family photograph. Your Story had captioned it as, “Kalam as a toddler with his Family in Tamil Nadu”. This claim was earlier fact-checked by BBC Hindi who arrived at the conclusion that the photograph was APJ Abdul Kalam’s childhood photograph.

Origins of the photograph

We found that one of the earliest instances, when the image had appeared on the Internet, was a blog post published in August 2013. The image was published with an article by Jagran Josh, an education portal of Jagran group, in July 2018, on Kalam’s death anniversary.

Family calls it fake

Alt News contacted A.P.J.M.J Sheikh Saleem, the grand nephew of Kalam and managing trustee of Abdul Kalam International Foundation (AKIF) to check whether the image is genuine. He said, “That is not Dr Kalam and his mother. That’s a fake photograph. We don’t have any photographs of Dr Kalam’s childhood so far. Those days, Dr Kalam’s mother would not take any photograph. So, it’s not possible. There are also no photographs of Kalam’s father.”

We were told that the youngest picture of APJ Abdul Kalam available with the ‘House of Kalam’ is from his college days.

Moreover, Alt News was also told that there are no photographs of Kalam’s father. However, we were able to access a painting of Kalam’s father, which is available at the ‘House of Kalam’, the former president’s ancestral house in Rameshwaram, where his 102-year-old elder brother A.P.J. Mohamed Muthu Meera Maraikayar lives with the family.

In conclusion, a photograph of an unidentified family was initially shared as former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s childhood photograph and later as of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture with his mother.

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