By: umme kulsum
January 23 2024
The inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh on January 22 was led by Indian PM Narendra Modi. (Image source: Reuters)
On January 22, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram temple in the city of Ayodhya, where he was joined by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister Adityanath and the chief priest of the temple for the consecration ceremony.
The call for the construction of the temple has been a major poll plank for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parent organization, the RSS, for years, and their leaders pitched the temple’s inauguration as a national celebration.
In the run-up to the temple’s inauguration ceremony, for which several states declared a public holiday, the Indian social media landscape became rife with rumors, half-truths, and outright falsehoods. The misinformation wave prompted the Indian government to issue an advisory on January 20 to media outlets cautioning against disseminating false or manipulated content that has the “potential to disturb communal harmony or public order in the country.”
The temple, which is still under construction, is being built after the Supreme Court in November 2019 handed over 2.77 acres of land to the Hindus for a temple to Lord Ram, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. The verdict brought to rest a decade-long judicial dispute between Hindu and Muslim sides on the ownership of the land in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Ram temple is being constructed on the site of the 16th Century Babri mosque, which was brought down by a Hindu mob on December 6, 1992, triggering sectarian riots across the country. The Hindu mob believed that the mosque stood on the spot where Lord Ram was born.
The history and legacy of the temple entangled in, what has been referred to as, “one of the world's most contentious property disputes” has been subjected to much distortion online.
Since December 2023, Logically Facts has busted several false narratives linked to the Ram temple. Here’s a recap of what we have debunked so far:
Screenshots from Google Maps, accompanied by dubious assertions that the Ram temple is not being constructed at the Babri mosque demolition site, emerged days before the consecration. Such posts triggered doubt and confusion, as users questioned the demolition of the Babri mosque and the consequent communal tensions that gripped the country.
Several political leaders from Opposition parties also used the images to criticize the ruling government.Online posts claiming Ram temple is being constructed 3 km away from the Babri mosque demolition site. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)
However, using satellite data, Logically Facts verified that the Ayodhya temple is indeed being built at the exact spot where the Babri mosque once stood. Our investigation revealed that the structure labeled 'Babar Masjid (mosque)' on Google Maps is, in fact, a Sita Ram temple, and was misrepresented by social media users. Read our fact-check here.
The inauguration ceremony in Ayodhya was attended by several political leaders and celebrities, including actors, but some online users claimed that Indian President Draupadi Murmu was not invited to the event. Some users even insinuated that she was not extended an invitation as she belongs to the Adivasi community.
Screenshots of viral social media posts claiming President Draupadi Murmu was not invited to the inauguration ceremony. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)
However, a delegation comprising Nripendra Misra, chairman of the committee entrusted to oversee the temple construction, visited Murmu on January 12 to officially invite her to the ceremony. The Hindu right-wing group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had even shared a picture on X (formerly Twitter) of the president receiving the invitation. Here are more details from our fact-check.
In the wake of the temple inauguration, some states announced a half-day holiday, while some declared a full public holiday on January 22. Following this, users on social media shared a narrative linking Israel and the Ram temple inauguration. The posts claimed Israel had declared a holiday on January 22 to mark the Ram temple consecration.
Screenshot of posts claiming that Israel has declared a holiday on January 22. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)
Refuting this widely circulated claim, a spokesperson from the Israel Embassy in India confirmed to Logically Facts that according to the official calendar, there was no holiday on January 22. Read our story here.
A mistranslated 12-second clip of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni went viral with the claim that she she wished Hindus in India ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the Ram temple.
Social media posts claiming Italian PM Giorgia Meloni posted a message for Hindus ahead of the Ram temple’s consecration ceremony. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)
The Italian PM was, in fact, expressing gratitude to her supporters for wishing her on her birthday. The actual translation of the viral clip says, “Thank you, everybody, for the birthday wishes— that you sent privately, through social media posts— really a lot of encouragement which I will treasure, you're my strength, I love you!” Here’s a fact-check on the viral claim.
Images of ₹500 currency notes, featuring Lord Ram on the newly-constructed temple, were shared across social media platforms with the claim that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would release this new bill on January 22.
Online posts sharing purported images of the ₹500 currency notes featuring Lord Ram. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)
However, several discrepancies in the viral images suggested that they were digitally edited. Spotting a watermark that read “X raghunmurthy07” on the purported currency note, Logically Facts contacted the user, who informed us that he had created the images using editing softwares. You can find our fact-check on the viral claims here.
Similarly, a photograph purportedly showing Lord Ram’s image projected on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, circulated widely just a day after the Ram temple consecration ceremony. Several claims and even some news reports suggested that this display occurred on January 22, in conjunction with the Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya.
Social media posts and an Aaj Tak report claiming that Burj Khalifa was lit up with Lord Ram’s photo. (Source: Aaj Tak/Modified by Logically Facts)
However, a reverse image search using Yandex led Logically Facts to a Pinterest post featuring the same exact image of the building but without Lord Ram's depiction. We concluded that the iconic building was not adorned with an image of Lord Ram. Read our fact-check here for details.
A viral image of Lord Ram’s picture displayed on a clock tower, purportedly in Lal Chowk, Srinagar, generated a lot of buzz online ahead of the consecration ceremony. Some users even added communal undertones to this claim.
An online post claiming Lord Ram’s photo was displayed in Lal Chowk. Srinagar. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)
Through a simple reverse image on the viral clip’s keyframes, we determined that the video was actually captured in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. We also checked Google Maps and verified that the tower in the viral clip is the one located in Dehradun’s Ghantaghar area. The clock tower in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk is very different from the one seen in the viral clip. You can read our story here.
Comparison between the clock tower in Lal Chowk and Dehradun’s clock tower. (Source: Google Maps/Screenshot)
Old images of vultures and bears were also shared by social media users, claiming that ‘Jatayu’ and ‘Jambhuvantha’ — mythological characters from the Hindu epic of Ramayana — had started descending in Ayodhya ahead of the consecration ceremony. You can read our fact-checks debunking such narratives here and here.
Screenshots of viral posts claiming that mythical creatures had arrived in Ayodhya ahead of the temple inauguration. (Source: X, Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)
A clip of a procession showing saffron-clad people chanting slogans hailing Lord Ram was shared on social media with the claim that it shows a religious procession (Kalash Yatra) organized in Ayodhya during the run-up to the consecration ceremony. This video was also shared with the claim that it shows people in Nepal “walking miles” to send gifts for Ram and Sita. However, this video is of a religious procession that was held in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, in July 2023. Our fact-check has more details here.
Social media users have claimed that this video shows Ram temple in Ayodhya. (Source: X, Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)
A clip of a special-themed pandal (makeshift pavilion) set up at the Santosh Mitra Square in North Kolkata during the festival of Durga Puja has also been wrongly peddled as a visual of the newly-inaugurated temple in Ayodhya. Read our fact-check here.