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Fact-checker: Narendra Modi's family does not hold him responsible for father's death who died of cancer; fake news blaming PM doing rounds

Lok Sabha Election 2019 Fact-checker:

Claim: Newspaper reported that Narendra Modi's family has alleged that he was responsible for his father's death after he stole gold from him at a young age, The report further claimed that Modi's father died of a heart attack due to the same.

Fact: FALSE. Modi's family has confirmed that his father died of bone cancer in 1989 and at that time Modi was away on Kailash Mansarovar yatra but came back for the funeral.

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A purported newspaper clipping blaming Narendra Modi for his father's death that has resurfaced on social media amid the Lok Sabha election. The article, published in Hindi (without a date or a byline) is headlined: “मोदी के भाई बहन नरेंद्र मोदी को ही अपने पिताजी के मौत का जिम्मेदार मानते है (Narendra Modi’s brothers and sister blame him for their father’s death)".

The article says that Modi’s father, Damodardas Mulchand Modi, used to make ends meet by pickpocketing and stealing coal and iron from a railway station where he worked as a tea seller. He traded the stolen items for gold, which, in turn, were stolen by Modi when he was young. His father, unable to cope with his son’s actions, suffered a cardiac arrest. The family could not get back the stolen gold despite lodging an FIR and Damodardas subsequently died because the family couldn't afford the medical expenses. The story also claims that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee suppressed the case and dismissed an FIR against Modi in 1996.

The article's snapshot was shared by multiple social media users over various platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. However, fact-checking website AltNews traced back the article to have been first shared in 2017 by a Congress member named Velaram M Patel on Facebook.

The AltNews report says when they contacted Modi's family to verify the claims made in the article, his elder brother Soma Modi said, "My father had bone cancer and died in 1989.” He added that the prime minister was at Kailash Mansarovar Yatra at the time. This information was confirmed by Modi’s younger brother Prahlad Modi to Alt News. “This is completely false,” he asserted. “Our father died in 1989 of bone cancer. Narendra was an RSS pracharak at the time and was home for father’s funeral.”

According to Modi's biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay's book  Narendra Modi: The Man, the Times, Modi left his village and broke away from his family in 1967. He came home for a few hours in 1989 when his father passed away. The book also says that Modi had just returned from his pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar when his father was on his death bed. “I gave him sacred water from Mansarovar,” the book quotes Modi. It adds that in 1989, when Damodardas passed away, Modi was General Secretary, Organisation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Boom Live has also called the story fake and pointed out that there is no media agency called 'The Delhi News Network' (as mentioned in the dateline of the article) and it is a fictitious name created to lend credence to the fake article.

The alleged story accusing Modi of being culpable for his father's death is, thus, fake as is not backed by factual data and is riddled with inconsistencies and grammatical errors. Many sentences in the article do not end with a full-stop but ellipsis, AltNews noted debunking the false story.

However, as per Boom Live's report, this was not the first instance of such a claim being made against Modi. In 2016, a fake news clipping of Amar Ujala went viral with Prahlad Modi seemingly quoted as saying, “He did not leave to become a monk, Narendra Modi was kicked out of the house for stealing jewelry.” Prahlad later clarified that he never gave such a quote to Amar Ujala, while Amar Ujala’s editor claimed that his publication never ran an article with such a headline, the report says.

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Updated Date: May 08, 2019 10:24:53 IST