On Thursday (April 22) night, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter to spread fake news about the death of the former BJP Parliamentarian and ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Late Thursday night, Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter and said, “Saddened to learn of the passing of former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. I remember many positive interactions with her, including when she and the late Sushma Swaraj asked me to lead a Parliamentary delegation to BRICS in Moscow. My condolences to her family and prayers: Om Shanti.”
Following his tweet, several politicians such as NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and her daughter Supriya Sule joined the bandwagon to mourn the “death” of Sumitra Mahajan. Sharad Pawar wrote, “Saddened to know about the demise of former Lok Sabha Speaker Smt. Sumitra Mahajan. My heartfelt condolences to members of her family. May they gather the strength to bear this inseparable loss.”
Supriya Sule also tweeted about the “demise” of the former Lok Sabha speaker.
Attributing the story to Shashi Tharoor, Hindustan Times also published the news about Mahajan’s “death” on its website.
What is the Truth?
Hours after Shashi Tharoor announced the “demise” of the BJP leader, Kailash Vijayvargiya took to Twitter to set the record straight. In a tweet, he said, “Tai Ekdum swast hai. Bhagwan unhe lambi umar de (She is absolutely healthy. Let the Almighty give her a long life.)”
On learning that he had ‘inadvertently’ peddled fake news about Sumitra Mahajan’s death, the Congress leader replied, “Thanks Kailash Vijayvargiya. I have deleted the tweet. I wonder what motivates people to invent and spread such evil news that takes in people. My best wishes for Sumitra Ji’s health and long life.”
ABP News journalist Vikas Bhadauria informed that Sumitra Mahajan is being treated at the Bombay Hospital in Indore, Maharashtra. Shashi Tharoor responded, “I am relieved if that is so. I received this from what I thought was a reliable source.” He emphasised, “Happy to retract and appalled that anyone would make up such news.”
Following the dissemination of fake news about his mother’s death by Shashi Tharoor, and other politicians, Mandar Mahajan responded to the controversy on Friday morning. He is the youngest son of Sumitra Mahajan.
In a video shared by Times Now journalist Govind Gurjar, Mahajan could be heard as saying, “My mother is perfectly healthy. The rumours about her demise are absolutely false. Please don’t believe in such rumours. Her COVID-19 report is also negative. I had met her in the evening itself. She is perfectly healthy.”
#Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan (ताई) is all well…It was all unfortunately spread rumour regarding her death on Social media yesterday late evevning…!— Govind Gurjar गोविंद गुर्जर (@govindtimes) April 23, 2021
Here is @S_MahajanLS
Son Mr. Mandar Mahajan to tell you the good News..! pic.twitter.com/MdkN0ob81p
Hindustan Times, which had earlier cited Congress leader Shashi Tharoor as their source to claim the death of Sumitra Mahajan, has also apologised for their story. In a statement, it said, “We regret the publishing of this news based on parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor’s tweet concerning Sumitra Mahajan’s health.”
It is pertinent to note that the Hindustan Times had simply reported the incident based on the tweet of Congress’ Shashi Tharoor without any independent verification.
Not the first time that fake news about death made the rounds – last time, it was Rajdeep Sardesai
This is not the first time that fake news about a parliamentarians death has made the rounds. Rajdeep Sardesai, who has a history of spreading fake news and rumor-mongering on social media had prematurely announced the demise of former President Pranab Mukherjee last year.
Abhijit Mukherjee, the former president’s son and Sharmistha, his daughter, had tweeted at that time saying that he was alive and was thermodynamically stable. They condemned the behaviour of certain media persons, declaring a person dead even before confirmation from reliable sources. Abhijit stated, “Speculations & fake news being circulated by reputed Journalists on social media clearly reflects that Media in India has become a factory of Fake News.”
On being called out on social media, he tweeted, “My deep deep apologies for falling for fake news being circulated on Pranab Mukherjee passing away. I am deeply distraught for falling for this fake news. It was unprofessional of me not to reconfirm it before tweeting. Apologies to all and prayers with the family.”