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Fake news alert: Did Abhinandan Varthaman come out to showcase his support for BJP?

PW Bureau

The man featured in a viral photo looks similar to Wing Commander Varthaman and is seen sporting a saffron scarf with the BJP electoral symbol imprinted on it New Delhi: Have you come across a viral post doing the rounds on Facebook and claiming that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has openly come out in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and has voted for the ruling party in the ongoing General Elections? Well, that has been found to be fake news. The man featured in the photo looks similar to Wing Commander Varthaman and is seen sporting a saffron scarf with the BJP electoral symbol imprinted on it. However, all that the man has in common with Varthaman is his handlebar moustache. The claim was debunked by Boomlive.

What does the post say?

The text that accompanies the photo says, “Wing Commander Abhinandan ji has openly supported the BJP and even voted to make Modi ji Prime Minister, and he says there is no better Prime Minister than Modi at present, friends make this reach Jihadis and Congressis, you never brought back a jawan alive and today Abhinandan has returned alive and voted for BJP.” The post has gone viral on social media and has been shared by pro-BJP pages and groups on Facebook and Twitter as well. Take a look for yourself: Alt="Did Abhinandan Varthaman come out to showcase his support for BJP?" Alt="Did Abhinandan Varthaman come out to showcase his support for BJP?" The account from which this photo was tweeted can now not be found on Twitter. On doing a search for the said handle, this is what PSU Watch found on Twitter: Alt="Did Abhinandan Varthaman come out to showcase his support for BJP?"

So, what is the truth?

The claim about a serving officer of the Indian Air Force campaigning for a particular political party is false primarily because they just can’t do that. According to the Air Force Rules, 1969, it is categorically stated that IAF personnel are not permitted to take part in political activities. Please check the excerpt in the image below from the Manual of Air Force Law, which can be availed from the Ministry of Defence website.

Coming to facial features

If you place Varthaman’s photo side by side with the man with the saffron scarf, you will observe the following discrepancies. Even though the eyes and the hair of the man purported to be Abhinandan are hidden by glasses and cap, differences are discernible. Alt="Did Abhinandan Varthaman come out to showcase his support for BJP?"
  1. Varthaman has a mole just under his lips which is missing in the other photo.
  2. The man wearing the scarf has a mole under his right eye, which is not there on Varthaman’s face.
  3. The space between Varthaman’s lower lip and his chin is clearly distinguished by a horizontal line which is not present on the face of the other man.
  4. The postures of the two men are also different. While Abhinandan shoulders are straight, the other man in the viral photo has drooping shoulders.

The catch-22 situation

Since Varthaman is from Tamil Nadu, it is possible that he is registered as a voter in the same state. And Tamil Nadu did not vote in the first phase of General Elections that concluded on April 11.