Woman in Photo Not NYT Reporter With Sitaram Yechury at Sabarimala

A 2015 photo of CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury with activist Teesta Setalvad is being shared on social media as Yechury meeting New York Times reporter Suhasini Raj, who recently aborted her trek to Sabarimala after massive protests.

Raj was recently in the news as protesters in Sabarimala stopped her from entering the temple and allegedly pelted stones at her.

The photo is viral on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter – with various captions slamming the journalist and Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The picture is also being shared on WhatsApp and Facebook in Malayalam with a misleading caption.

An account called Ex-comrade also tweeted the photo, but later deleted its tweet. The handle has been regularly posting about the Sabarimala issue, slamming the Left government and women trying to enter the temple.

Raj herself called out the photo on Twitter. “The harassment on twitter continues unabated for second day in a row,” she tweeted. “This one has a funny photo of @SitaramYechury with some lady whom this harasser calls mine.”

BOOM was able to verify that the woman in the photo is, in fact, activist Teesta Setalvad. The photo is from August 2015 during a rally organised by CPI-M in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan. The rally was attended by many CPI-M leaders and also saw Setalvad share the dais with them. Setalvad is an activist and the founder of the Citizens for Justice and Peace.

BOOM was also able to trace the photo to Press Trust of India’s archives. It was shot by photographer Santosh Hirlekar.

The rally was widely covered by news outlets in 2015 and other photos from the event can be found on sites including the Telegraph and NDTV.

A screenshot of the event where CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury and activist Teesta Seetalvad shared the stage, published on NDTV. 

CPI-M, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for for the violence in Sabarimala. The shrine has been rocked by protests in the past week after protesters turned violent towards journalists and women devotees, who tried to enter the temple premises.

The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment on 28 September 2018, had permitted women across all ages to enter the temple, breaking an age-old tradition. Earlier, only men and pre-menstruation and post-menopausal females were allowed inside. Entry was restricted to women who were of a menstruating age.

(The story first appeared on BOOM LIVE)

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