Delhi Police arrested Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old environmental activist, on February 14 citing that she is a “key conspirator in (the) document’s formulation & dissemination” of the ‘toolkit’ shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg related to the farmers’ protests. On the same day, Times Now published a report identifying Disha as a single mother.

Subsequently, several social media users have also claimed that Disha is a single mother. These claims are viral in both Hindi and English. Some of them include BJP supporter Ankit Jain and Twitter users Pawan Durani, Kartikeya Tanna, Chayan Chatterjee and Ponnappa Cheppudira. Chatterjee is the great-grandson of former Calcutta University vice-chancellor Ashutosh Mukherjee.

Anonymous Twitter users @SouleFacts and @SlightlyEpic_, who are followed by PM Narendra Modi, also posted similar claims.

Twitter user Anurag Dixit quote-tweeted a user who shared the above-mentioned Times Now report and wrote, “She’s a single mother at 21?”

Fact-check

There are no media reports, apart from the one by Times Now, that identifies Disha as a single mother.

The Hindu stated that the Bengaluru-based climate activist is the daughter of a single mother.

It has been more than 24 hours since Times Now published the erroneous article. They are yet to update it.

On the condition of anonymity, Disha’s high-school friend told Alt News on a telephonic call, “The social media claim that Disha is a single mother is false.” Another friend stated the same and confirmed that Disha is 22 years old.

The News Minute reporter Prajwal quote-tweeted @SouleFacts and wrote, “…Disha has a single mother. She is not a single mother.”

This is not the first time a woman has been targeted with misinformation on social media in India. In the recent past, vulgar falsehoods were created to discredit women activists who criticised the government. Pornographic content was used to spread misinformation about 27-year-old anti-CAA protestor Safoora Zarga and discredit women-led anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh. In a similar manner, multiple Twitter users have claimed that Disha is pregnant.

Despite the fact the investigations are still pending in Disha’s case, several influential Twitter users have tweeted what they (or a prominent personality) were doing at the age of 21 in an attempt to malign Disha’s character. They have stated that young age is no excuse for engaging in ‘anti-government’ activities.

An erroneous report was published by Times Now that stated that 22-year-old Disha as a single mother. The outlet is yet to rectify the error.

[Note: Times Now updated its report after this fact-check was published. The outlet however did not provide any clarification for the error. Jyoti Kapur Das’ name was inadvertently added in the fact-check and has been removed.]

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About the Author

Archit is a fact-checking journalist at Alt News since November 2019. Previously, he has worked as a producer at a TV news channel and as a reporter at a leading English-language daily. In addition to work experience in media, he has also worked as a fundraising and communication manager at an NGO.