Vishwa Hindu Parishad spokesperson and joint secretary (Konkan) Shriraj Nair recently shared a collage of two photographs. The first is black and white, featuring four women seated in a jeep and holding rifles. The other is a coloured image that resembles the first, this time with four older women posing with rifles in a similar fashion. The caption in Nair’s post read, “The picture at the top is of four Bangladeshi freedom fighters taken in 1971, during the Liberation War against West Pakistan. The photo below has been taken recently, 50 years on. The same women now in HIJAB in the same jeep, with the same rifles.”

Following this, many social media users began sharing the two pictures claiming that the women were originally Hindu and made to undergo religious conversion after Bangladesh attained independence. One such post read, “Photo of atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh. The photo above was taken during the Bangladesh liberation movement of 1971 when they were Hindus. But by the time these women recreated the photo today, they had converted to Islam.” (Archive link)

In addition to Twitter, the photo and accompanying claim also made their way to Facebook. Music composer Srinjoy Mukherjee also shared it as a photo from the 1971 war. He wrote, “All this just to end up in burqas. Tragic.”

False claims

Alt News performed a reverse image search and found the original photo on a Facebook page called Bangladesh Old Photo Archive. Uploaded on July 19, 2013, it was attributed to Renan Ahmed. The page also tagged a few people in the post, including Ahmed.

Women are posing with gun in a village trip. Bangladesh (1965)

Photo courtesy- Renan Ahmed.

Posted by Bangladesh Old Photo Archive on Friday, July 19, 2013

We found the black and white photo on Renan Ahmed’s profile. He shared this picture in August 2020 with the caption, “1961”. We found several other photos of the woman sitting in the passenger seat on his Facebook timeline.

1961

Posted by Renan Ahmed on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

1958

Posted by Renan Ahmed on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

We reached out to Renan Ahmed for more context on the two viral photos. “The woman sitting next to the driver’s seat in the picture is my grandmother Rokaiya Ahmed. The other three women are Ayesha, Rashida Ahmed and Shahana Ahmed. This photo was taken by my grandfather in 1961. He died last year. They were posing with rifles just for the picture,” he said.

Renan also shared some pictures of his grandmother (first, second, third, and fourth). He clarified that the photo in question had nothing to do with the 1971 war. “I still have this jeep in my house. We like to collect such classic cars. And this rifle was used for hunting during our grandparents’ time,” he said, adding that the older photo was recreated in 2017 with his grandmother and the others.

Ahmed refuted the claim that the women were Hindus who converted to Islam. All the women were Muslims by birth, he informed. The other women are also Ahmed’s relatives, out of which only one is still alive. His grandfather lived in Delhi and had his own business but the family settled in Bangladesh following the partition of India in 1947.

He also sent us a picture of the old photo and the camera used to take the photograph.

A picture of four Bangladeshi women sitting in a jeep is viral in India with the false claim that they were Hindus made to convert to Islam after the country’s liberation. The image has no association with the 1971 war.

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About the Author

A journalist and a dilettante person who always strives to learn new skills and meeting new people. Either sketching or working.