A photo of self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda is viral on Facebook with the claim that it shows Home Minister Amit Shah touching his feet.
One Facebook post in Bengali claimed that the home minister of the country was placing handcuffs around the feet of the ‘fake’ godman accused of rape.
The posts had been widely shared by people who said that the man in white who can be seen touching the godman’s feet is Shah.
The photo was also shared on Twitter by a number of people with the same claim.
WHAT’S THE TRUTH?
The face of the man bending in the photo to touch Nithyananda’s feet is largely concealed by the latter’s hands. However, The Quint was able to confirm that the man is not actually Shah, but someone else.
WHAT WE FOUND
On running a reverse search on the photo, The Quint came across it on a website called www.nithyananda.org. According to the page, which appeared to be the official website of the self-styled godman, the photo was dated 9 July 2017 and showed Nithyananda at Guru Purnima celebrations. On going through a host of photographs of the day’s celebrations, we came across photos which explained who the man in the photo actually was.
According to the website, the man who can be seen in other photos sitting beside, standing beside and eventually touching Nithyananda’s feet was the High Commissioner of Mauritius in India, Jagdishwar Goburdhun.
Goburdhun was present at the celebrations on 9 July 2017 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nithyananda’s Ashram’s two major institutions, Nithyananda Gurukul and Nithyananda University. The agreement was to lead to the establishment of both these institutions in Mauritius in partnership with the government of the Republic of Mauritius.
Here is a video from the celebrations. From 5.50 onwards, Goburdhun can be seen holding the document with MoU and then speaking at the event.
Goburdhun and Nithyananda signed the MoU on the auspicious day of Guru Poornima, 9 July 2017.
The very next photo in the sequence shows a man bending down to touch Nithyananda’s feet. Since he is clothed in the same attire and the background of the photo appears to be unchanged, it can be safely assumed that the man is Goburdhun himself.
The photos right after this one go on to show Goburdhun again.
Therefore, it is clear that the man in the viral photo is not Amit Shah as claimed but the High Commissioner of Mauritius in India, Jagdishwar Goburdhun. This is clearly fake news.
WHO IS NITHYANANDA?
Nithyananda, who has recently fled India, is one of the most popular self-styled godmen. He has been booked under several charges of the IPC, having been been accused of raping a disciple during her stay in his ashram. In June 2018, a Karnataka trial court framed charges against Nithyananda. He faces trial under Sections 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural sex), 420 (cheating), 114 (criminal abetment), 201 (disappearance of evidence, giving false information), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Most recently, Nithyananda bought a private island, naming it ‘Kailaasa.’ He has declared the island a Hindu sovereign nation and has already designed a flag, a passport and an emblem for it. The exact location of the island is still unknown, but a few sources say it might be near Ecuador.
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