Photos of Indian ruling party official were taken in 2008 -- she has not been 'assaulted in Delhi'

·2 min read

Two photos have been shared thousands of times in Muslim-majority Bangladesh alongside a claim they show a former official from India's Hindu-nationalist ruling party being assaulted in a New Delhi market after she made controversial comments about the Prophet Mohammed. However, the claim is false; the photos were taken in 2008 when she stormed a seminar hosted by a Muslim academic.

The images were shared here on Facebook on June 13, 2022.

The Bengali-language caption translates as: "Praise be to God. Nupur Sharma, the woman who insulted the Prophet (PBUH), was beaten by a mob while she was shopping in a Delhi market."

Sharma was a spokesperson for India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) until early June 2022, when she was suspended after sparking a global backlash for her comments about the prophet's relationship with his youngest wife during a broadcast debate.

The remarks from Sharma, long a firebrand mouthpiece for India's Hindu-nationalist government, triggered protests in India and its neighbouring countries. In eastern India, police shot dead two people and arrested another 130 during street rallies, AFP reported.

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken June 13, 2022.

Since coming to power nationally in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and the BJP have been accused of championing discriminatory policies towards Muslims.

The photos were shared alongside similar claims here and here.

But the claim is false -- the images were taken in 2008.

Keyword and reverse image searches found the photos published by photo agency Getty Images here and here on its website.

Both are captioned: "ABVP activist and DUSU President Nupur Sharma crashing the gate to mark her protest against Prof. SAR Geelani at a public meeting at Delhi University's North Campus, on November 6, 2008 in New Delhi, India."

Sharma became infamous for leading a mob of students to storm a seminar hosted by Muslim academic Professor Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani -- who had previously been charged and acquitted of a terror attack on India's Parliament.

A student union leader and member of the BJP's youth wing at Delhi University at the time, Sharma had called Geelani a "terrorist" while defending her actions, local media reported.

Below is the screenshot comparison of the images in the misleading posts (L) and the ones published by Getty Images (R):

Screenshot comparison of the images in the misleading posts (L) and the ones published by Getty Images (R)

As of June 15, 2022, AFP has not found any credible media reports of Sharma being assaulted by a mob in Delhi.

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