Fact check: Is this 45-year-old Congress leader and JNU student Abdul Raza?

Social media is raging with misinformation relating to the ongoing protest in the national capital by students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). In yet another instance, a photograph has been shared on social media, targeting the protesting students. An image of a student is being circulated with the claim that he is a 45 year old Congress leader Abdul Raza who is still a student at the university.

“ये JNU का छात्र निकला 45 वर्ष का जानते हैं कौन है अब्दुल रजा कांग्रेस का मण्डल अध्यक्ष कुछ समझे” (This 45 year old turned out to be a JNU student, he is Abdul Raza, a Congress leader- translated). This is the narrative accompanying the photograph.

Social media users have tweeted the picture with the hashtag #ShutDownJNU. Several users have retweeted the claim. It has also been shared on Facebook.

FACT CHECK: NOT 45-YEAR OLD ABDUL RAZA

The claim is false. The person in the photograph is not a 45-year old Congress leader named Abdul Raza. His name is  Shubham Bokade. Shubham is 23 years old, and is pursuing MA in Linguistics at JNU. In a conversation with Alt News, Bokade said, “My name is Shubham Bokade. I am a student at JNU doing my master’s in Linguistics. I’m 23 years old. I’ve completed my undergrad from Nagpur University. I came to this University to study because of my passion for academics and because JNU remains the most reputed University in the country. The recently erupted protests in the University for fee hike, like everyone else had affected me as well. Thus, I participated in the protests because I believe accessible and affordable education is a right. Just because you want to vilify a University and because of my premature balding you think it’s okay to Target me is deplorable. I’ve faced harassment because of my bald head all my life and I thought coming to JNU would somehow stop that, the recent episode however, has shaken me. Whatever mental harassment done to me because of this episode is irreparable.

Bokade called out the post and further stated, “First of all, the post being circulated is fake. I think the narrative being circulated is also very problematic. It is Islamophobic, clearly. Secondly, suppose even if I were the Abdul Raza who is 45 years of age as the fake news claims, the question is what’s wrong with a 45 year old man trying to get an education at an affordable price. The idea of education is not to make University spaces exclusive but rather to make space for the last person standing.

This is only the latest instance of misinformation of this nature, wherein JNU students are being targeted online through the use of either old and unrelated photographs, or false narratives altogether.

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