A set of images of students in Delhi has gone viral across social media, claiming that the Aam Aadmi Party government is using students of private schools to spread lies through international publications.
The claim has spread across social media after the New York Times published a report about government run schools in Delhi on August 16, 2022. Several BJP members criticised the article, terming it as a paid advertisement by the AAP. The NYT report was also republished in Khaleej Times.
BJP member Kapil Mishra tweeted two images. One of the images shows the republished report by Khaleej Times. The other image shows a Google Image search result for Mothers Mary's School, Mayur Vihar.
The translated claim reads, "They (AAP Government) published news by paying money in New York Times and Khaleej Times, but their habit of lying and theft did not go away. These photos are not of a government school in Delhi but Mother Mary School in Mayur Vihar students. Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia are selling lies in the country and abroad."
BJP members Parvesh Sahib Singh, Rakesh Goel, and Priti Gandhi shared claims similar to those shared by Kapil Mishra.
The spokesperson of the Jannayak Janta Party, Virender Sidhu, also amplified the claim. He claimed that the Arvind Kejriwal led government had passed off a photo of the children of "Mother Mary Private School, Mayur Vihar, Delhi" as a Delhi government school. He also alleged that the Delhi government gave crores of rupees to publish false news in New York Times and Khaleej Times.
The claim is widely viral across Twitter and Facebook.
We conducted a reverse image search on the image circulated with tweets. We found that the image was published in the New York Times on August 16.
The caption of the image mentions that the image is from a classroom in Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in New Delhi. The photojournalist credited for the image is Saumya Khandelwal. The same image was published in the report by Khaleej Times.
Then we conducted a reverse image search on the second image which led us to this result on the website of Mother Mary's School in Mayur Vihar. The About Page stated that the school is an all-girls school. The page also mentioned, "We don't have any branch either in Delhi or outside."
We then noticed that, as can be seen in the first image, male students can be seen alongside female students. However, Mother Mary's school is an all-girls school.
Following this detail, we compared both images. We noted that despite the similarity in the colour of the uniforms for the female students, there were several differences. The collars of the uniforms were of different colours in the images. In the image published by NYT and Khaleej Times, the uniforms worn by the female students had long sleeves, whereas the uniforms worn by students of Mother Mary's school had half sleeves.
We also noticed that the emblems on the school uniforms were different. Upon closer inspection, we noticed that 'Sarvodaya', the school's name, is written on the emblem. This indicates that the image is from a Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in New Delhi, as mentioned in the caption of the NY Times article.
We found that the Delhi Government runs 442 Sarvodaya schools as of March 21, 2022, as per an Indian Express article. These schools are out of a total of 1,067 schools run by the Delhi government.
We also found a list of the Sarvodaya schools in New Delhi. Out of 442 schools, over 70 schools are co-ed schools, where both boys and girls study together.
In our Fact Check, we also saw a tweet by AAP member Atishi Marlena. In her tweet, while criticising Kapil Mishra, she clarifies that Mother's Mary school is an all-girls school. She states regarding the first image, "This photo is of Sarvodaya school in Kakrola."
The Lallantop's report on this incident, published on 19th August 2022, carried a clarification by photojournalist Saumya Khandelwal. She is quoted as saying that she captured the picture on her camera on July 5, 2022. "During that time, I was doing an assignment for the New York Times. The picture is of Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Kakrola, Delhi. Later this picture was included in a report by the New York Times."
We found that the Mother's Mary School is an all-girls school, whereas the Sarvodaya school shown in the image published in the NYT article is a co-ed school. Both the schools are different, and the Sarvodaya school is run by the Delhi government. Thus, we can conclude that images were circulated with false claim to show the Delhi AAP government and leaders such as Kejriwal and Sisodia in a negative light.
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