Fact-check: Was the photo shared by Vinod Kapri that of Nehru after taking holy dip in Kumbh 1954

Congress leader A Gopanna has included the photo in his biography of Nehru saying it is from Nehru immersing ashes of his father in 1931

This year’s Kumbh Mela which is taking place at Prayagraj is special not only because of the unprecedented enormity of preparations but also because Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has reviewed the preparations of the largest religious congregation. While this act of the Prime Minister has attracted both praises as well as criticism, there are some who are harping on an altogether different string.

A photo of Jawaharlal Nehru was posted by Vinod Kapri on Twitter, the director of the movie Pihu and the former editor of Zee News and India TV, claiming that Nehru had taken a dip during the 1954 Kumbh Mela.

Responding to his tweet, a Twitter user posted the same photo from Congress leader A. Gopanna’s biography of Nehru – Jawaharlal Nehru: An Illustrated Biography – where the photo is captioned as ‘Jawaharlal Nehru taking a bath after immersion of ashes at Allahabad in 1931’.

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This led to a war of words on Twitter with Kapri claiming that the picture cannot be that of immersion of Nehru’s father’s ashes because at that time Nehru’s age was 42 while he looks much older in the picture and therefore the picture is of 1954 Kumbh when Nehru was 65.

A. Gopanna is a Congress leader, and currently the Chairman of Media Department of Tamil Nadu Congress, apart from being a spokesperson. His illustrated biography of the first Prime Minister if India was unveiled by former President of India Pranab Mukherjee in May last year. Therefore, there is very little reason to doubt that Goppana will mislabel the image of Nehru in his book.

Moreover, the photo tweeted by the Twitter user was originally posted by Journalist Vikash Pathak in May last year.

He had also written in the tweet that the photo shows Jawaharlal Nehru immersing his father’s ashes while wearing a janeu.

The photo is also used in an article of India Today wherein it is claimed that the picture is that of immersion of Nehru’s mother’s ashes (1938). Similarly, an article published in Open magazine also captions the photo as that of the immersion of ashes of Nehru’s mother in 1938. What is common in the captions given in the biography, the India Today article and the Open magazine article is that they all caption the photo as being that of Nehru taking a bath after immersion of ashes of either of his parents, restricting the scope of suspicion only to whether it was his father’s or mother’s ashes. None of the above mentioned sources have captioned the photo as being from the 1954 Kumbh.

If we look at another photo of Nehru from the Naini Central Prison taken somewhere between Oct 19, 1930 – Jan 26, 1931, during his fifth imprisonment, Nehru looks quite similar to how he looks in the photo.

Fifth Imprisonment, Jawaharlal Nehru in Naini Central Prison,
courtesy: http://nehruportal.nic.in

Given that a Congress party leader has included that photo in his book saying it shows Jawaharlal Nehru immersing his father’s ashes, and few media houses have labelled it as a photo of Nehru immersing his mother’s ashes, the possibility of the photo being from Kumbh in 1954 becomes very slim.

The 1954 Kumbh is infamous for a tragic stampede that happened on the main bathing day. On 3 February 1954, which was the Mauni Amavasya, around 800 people had lost their lives. The reason for the incident was the failure of crowd management by authorities, compounded by the presence of several political leaders, for which several areas of the Kumbh were blocked for the general public.

This is not the first time that Vinod Kapri has been caught spreading lies. Earlier, Kapri was caught lying about the violence that had broken out it Bulandshehr, Uttar Pradesh. When caught in the lie, he had attacked the police.


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