A photograph of Priyanka Gandhi during her wedding rituals over 20 years ago has found itself in the crosshairs of rumour-mongering on social media. Several users on Twitter have claimed that the bearded man in the picture is maulvi and MP Shafiqur Rahman Virk who performed Islamic rituals. ‘Shafiqur Rahman Barq’ is an MP from the Samajwadi Party.

The tweet below by Twitter handle @Callme_Varu_ has garnered close to 400 retweets. It reads, “प्रियंका गांधी के विवाह के समय मौलाना और संसद सदस्य शफीकुर्र रहमान विर्क को कुछ इस्लामी रवायत निभाने के लिए क्यों बुलाया गया था?”

Another user @ Real_Swatantra who mentions ‘BJP supporter’ in his bio shared the photograph with the same claim.

It has also been circulated on Facebook.

प्रियंका गांधी के विवाह के समय मौलाना और संसद सदस्य शफीकुर्र रहमान विर्क को कुछ इस्लामी रवायत निभाने के लिए क्यों बुलाया गया था ?
पूछता है भारत ??

Posted by Hindu Kamal Garg on Thursday, 23 April 2020


The bearded man in the photograph is Pandit Iqbal Kishen Reu. He is the brother of Pandit Swaroop Kishen Reu, the first Kashmiri Pandit cricket umpire and a Padma Shri-awardee. According to a 2009 article on Kashmir Sentinel, Pandit Iqbal Kishen Reu “was employed in the railways and had a thorough knowledge of Kashmiri Karm Kand. He was a practising Kul Purohit and used to perform religious rituals of his jajmans, After performing the marriage of Priyanka Gandhi with Robert Vadra in 1996 according to K.P’s traditions he left this job.” Kul Purohit means family priest.

That Iqbal Kishan Reu was the Gandhi’s family priest has also been stated in a feature on Priyanka Gandhi published in DailyO.

Alt News spoke with Amrita Chak, ex-journalist, founding editor of Jacaranda Press, and a Kashmiri Pandit herself. “While I do not know Mr Kishen Reu personally, I spoke with many individuals in the Kashmiri Pandit community and they confirmed to me that the person in the picture is Iqbal Kishen Reu,” she informed.

According to this tweet by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the viral photograph is of the morning puja on the day of her wedding. In other pictures of the puja provided to Alt News by a Congress office-bearer, she can be seen performing Hindu rituals.

Therefore, a photograph of Kashmiri Pandit Iqbal Kishen Reu performing puja on Priyanka Gandhi’s wedding day was shared on social media with the false claim that he is a maulvi who performed Islamic rituals. Portraying the Gandhi family as followers of Muslim tradition is a recurring piece of misinformation. A false claim earlier suggested that Islamic prayers were offered during Indira Gandhi’s funeral. Popular misinformation that often recirculates is a false quote attributed to Jawaharlal Nehru where he is claimed to identify as “Muslim by culture”.

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