A photograph featuring Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with a young woman in the military uniform is going viral on social media platforms. Those who shared the image claim that it shows the BJP leader with her daughter who has joined the Indian army. Newschecker found the claim to be untrue. Neither does the picture feature Sitharaman’s daughter, nor has her daughter joined the army.
Several Twitter users shared the photograph with the caption, “Ms. Nirmala Seetaraman’s daughter is now a part of Indian Army….serving our nation….she didn’t aspire to become an MLA or MLC… (sic)”
Archived versions of such tweets can be seen here, here, here and here.
The picture is also going viral on Facebook
Links to such Facebook posts can be seen here, here, here and here.
Newschecker also received the viral photograph on our WhatsApp tipline (+91- 9999499044) requesting to be fact checked.
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A keyword search for “Nirmala Sitharaman daughter” on Google led us to an NDTV report, dated February 1, 2020, titled ‘Nirmala Sitharaman’s Daughter, Uncle In Parliament To Cheer Her On.’ Displaying a photograph of Sitharaman’s relatives at the Parliament complex, the report stated, “The (finance) minister‘s daughter Vangmayi Parakala, maternal uncle and cousin brother were seen on the way to the visitors’ gallery of parliament shortly before the budget 2020 was to be presented.”
Several other news outlets have identified Sitharaman’s daughter as Vangmayi Parakala. Such reports can be seen here, here and here. Notably, the girl seen in all such pictures had no resemblance to the woman officer seen in the viral photograph.
On analysing the viral photograph we spotted ‘Nikita’ written embroidered on the uniform of the army officer, while Sitharaman’s daughter is named ‘Vangmayi Parakala.’ Notably, the Union Minister has only one daughter.
A report by The Print, dated March 2, 2020, stated “Sitharaman’s daughter Vangmayi Parakala completed her Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University…” Another report by Times Now, dated February 1, 2020, read, “Vangmayi is, reportedly, currently working as a senior reporter for a national newspaper where she writes predominantly on art, lifestyle technology, and books.”
We did not find any credible news report stating that Sitharaman’s daughter has joined the Indian army.
Further, a Yandex reverse image search on the viral photograph threw up a tweet by @anand91889593 carrying the same picture with the caption “For the first time in Indian history, this is happening continuously for 4 years, when the country’s Prime Minister, Defence Minister are all celebrating Deepawali not with their families, but together with the soldiers deployed for the defence of the country, on the border. (translated from Hindi).”
Notably, we were not able to find such a tweet by @anand91889593, however a search for the caption on Twitter led us to a post by @Sunitagupta__, dated November 8, 2018. The tweet carried four pictures, including the viral photograph. In the comment section, the user had also shared a screengrab from the official Twitter account of the Defence Minister carrying the viral photograph with the caption, “Smt @nsitharaman celebrates Diwali with soldiers, their families and locals at Hyulong, Arunachal Pradesh.”
The tweet by @DefenceMinIndia, dated November 7, 2018, can be seen below.
Several news outlets had reported on Sitharaman’s Diwali celebrations with soldiers in Arunachal Pradesh, during her tenure as the Union Defence Minister Such reports can be seen here, here and here.
Additionally, we found a tweet, dated January 2, 2019, by A. Bharat Bhushan Babu, Principal Spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, clarifying that the young female officer seen with Sitharaman in the viral photograph was not her daughter. He wrote, “CLARIFICATION. This is the photograph clicked at the request of the Army officer appointed as the LO to the RM during an official visit. She is NOT the daughter of the RM as suggested in some social media platforms”
We could thus conclude that the viral photograph is being falsely shared to show that Sitharaman’s daughter has joined the Indian army.
Old Claim Resurfaced
This is not the first time the photo featuring Nirmala Sitharaman along with a female officer has gone viral claiming to show the Union Minister’s daughter who has joined the Indian Army. We were able to spot posts from January 2019 making the same claim, indicating that it has been in circulation for the past four years at least.
Viral posts claiming that Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s daughter has joined the Indian Army are false.
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