A black and white photograph of a group of men is viral on social media. In the photograph, some of the men are wearing identical striped uniforms and a few are dressed in formals. The fifth man from the left in the last row is claimed to be Mahatma Gandhi. The image is being circulated with the claim that it dates back to the time when Gandhi was recruited into the British Army in pre-independent India and that he was also awarded several medals commemorating his distinguished services.

The image has multiple shares on Facebook and Twitter.


On performing a reverse image search, we found an article by Livemint which has used the same image. The article states that during his stay in South Africa between 1893-1915, Mahatma Gandhi formed two football clubs in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Both the teams were named “The Passive resisters”, based on the political philosophy inspired by Henry Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy. This image was that of the team, taken circa 1913 in South Africa.

The image has been credited to stock photo agency Dinodia. We checked the agency’s website and found the image. It was taken by Vithalbhai Jhaveri, a late filmmaker, and photographer who documented Gandhi during the independence movement.

Furthermore, the claim that Gandhi ‘served’ in the British Army itself is not credible. In 2008, when the claim appeared in Sainik Samachar, a journal run by The Ministry Of Defence, historian Ramachandra Guha stated, “Gandhi was never employed by the British forces. He had only raised a voluntary ambulance corps consisting purely of non-combatants to render medical aid to British troops. It is incorrect to say he served the British army.” Professor Bipin Chandra, an expert on the Indian National Movement, similarly said that Gandhi was never a part of the British army and had only raised a voluntary ambulance corps. Their statements were reported by Hindustan Times in 2008.

Therefore, while Mahatma Gandhi is indeed in the viral photograph, the image was taken in South Africa in 1913 when he formed football clubs.

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