A photograph currently viral on social media is being shared with the claim that it depicts Rajiv and Rahul Gandhi offering Islamic prayers at Indira Gandhi’s funeral. The caption shared with the image reads, “इन्दिरा की लाश के सामने राहुल और राजीव गांधी कलमा पढ रहे हैं फिर भी हमारे देश के लोगों को लगता है कि ये लोग ब्राह्मण हैं। (Even though Rahul and Rajiv Gandhi offered Islamic prayers in front of Indira Gandhi’s dead body, people say they are Brahmins.)”
बड़ी मुश्किल से यह फ़ोटो मिली है इंदिरा की लाश के सामने राहुल और राजीव गाँधी कलमा पढ़ रहे हैं फिर भी हमारे देशवासियों को लगता है कि ये हिन्दू हैं । pic.twitter.com/lFHPVDzw2i
— उदय प्रताप सिंह 🚩 (@Udaythakur21) August 24, 2021
The same photo was shared earlier in January.
— ओपी शेखावत (@op_shekhawat) January 15, 2021
It was quite viral on Facebook.
Circulating since 2019
Youth worker at the BJP, Manoj Kumar Rana, had shared the photograph in February 2020. His post had received 17,000 shares then.
The photograph does not depict Indira Gandhi’s funeral
Upon reverse-searching the image, Alt News found a few sources which claimed that the photograph was shot at the funeral of Pashtun independence activist Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan or ‘Frontier Gandhi’.
— Mohsin Dawar (@mjdawar) January 26, 2016
In 2016, a website named Skyscrapercity had also identified the photograph as Bacha Khan’s funeral in Peshawar.
Bacha Khan had passed away on January 20, 1988. A New York Times report published the next day had written that the Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Peshawar to pay tributes to Khan.
Comparing Rahul Gandhi’s age at the time of Indira Gandhi’s and Ghaffar Khan’s death
At the time of Indira Gandhi’s death, Rahul Gandhi was 14 years of age. When Abdul Ghaffar Khan died, Rahul Gandhi was 18. There are numerous photographs of the Congress leader at her grandmother’s funeral, where he clearly looks much younger than in the viral image.
This suggested that the photo being circulated on social media does not represent Indira Gandhi’s funeral.
Hindu rituals followed at Indira Gandhi’s cremation service
Former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi died on October 31, 1984, and the family followed Hindu traditions at her cremation. A Washington Post report published on November 4, 1984 described the funeral ritual as, “As Brahman pundits (those learned in Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy) chanted Vedic hymns and family members climbed the 10-foot-high platform to heap wooden logs atop the slowly smoking pyre, a collective moan of grief arose from thousands of mourners, followed abruptly by stillness as orange tongues of flames leaped higher.”
Photographs shot at the time by American stock photo agency Getty Images show Rajiv, Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi standing in front of Indira Gandhi’s burning pyre and performing Hindu rituals at the cremation.
It is therefore evident that Indira Gandhi was cremated following Hindu rituals. But the false claim is viral across social media platforms.
It is widely being shared on pro-Modi groups on WhatsApp.