BJP leader Kangana Ranaut was not photgraphed with gangster Abu Salem in viral image

By: Umme Kulsum
May 29 2024

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BJP leader Kangana Ranaut was not photgraphed with gangster Abu Salem in viral image

Screenshot of a post claiming that BJP candidate Kangana Ranaut was photographed with gangster Abu Salem. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

Fact-Check

The Verdict False

The image is from 2017, and the man seen in it is former journalist Mark Manuel. Ranuat did not pose for an image with the 1993 Mumbai blast convict.

Claim ID d1e444b7

What's the claim?

A picture of actor-turned-politician Kangana Ranaut with a man has gone viral on social media with the claim that the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) leader posed for a photograph with gangster Abu Salem. 

Several users have shared the photo to imply a connection between Ranaut and the 1993 Mumbai blast convict who is currently serving a life sentence. The viral image had an overlaid text in Hindi, which translated to, "Some memorable moments of devotees' lioness (referring to Ranaut) with the country's enemy Abu Salem."  Ranaut is the BJP candidate from the Mandi constituency in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, which goes to polls on June 1, in the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections. 

An X (formerly Twitter) user sharing the image wrote, "Sister of blind devotees, spending some memorable moments with 'Abu Salem'… (translated from Hindi)." The post was viewed 57,000 times at the time of writing this story. Archived versions of similar posts can be found here, here, and here.

Screenshot of the claims made online. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the man in the image is a former journalist, not convicted gangster Abu Salem.

What did we find?

Several news outlets have reported on Kangana Ranaut's recent clarification on Instagram, stating that her photo with one former journalist Mark Manuel has been shared as her being photographed with gangster Abu Salem.

Taking this clue, we ran a Google Search for 'Mark Manuel' and checked his Instagram and Facebook accounts. We found that Mark Manuel is a former editor at  The Times of India. He has also worked as a journalist for Mid-Day and has served as a columnist for the Hindustan Times and HuffPost.

Manuel had shared the now-viral image on his official Instagram account (archived here) on September 15, 2017, with the caption, "Kangana Ranaut... love, sex and betrayal. Read it on my Facebook page." He had also shared the same image on Facebook the same day (archived here). In the caption, Manuel wrote that this picture was taken at "Korner House in Khar some months ago." "It was at a champagne brunch to celebrate Kangana's film 'Simran' that releases today (sic)," he had written.

Further investigation into his Facebook account revealed that he had shared a post in October 2023 carrying the same image (archived here) along with several other screenshots of some news headlines. We learned that the photo in question had also gone viral in 2023 with the same claim. In a clarification under the image, Mark Manuel explains that a photo of Kangana Ranaut with him from a 2017 Huffington Post article (archived here) was mistakenly circulated by many Congress members, claiming she was sitting with gangster Abu Salem. He further stated that Ranaut and her supporters quickly debunked the claim, pointing out that Salem has incarcerated since 2002, making such a meeting impossible.

On October 1, 2023, Ranaut had also clarified on X (archived here) that the individual next to her was not gangster Abu Salem but journalist Mark Manuel. "I don't believe congress people really think he is the dreaded gangster Abu Salem hanging out with me casually in a mumbai bar. He is ex TOI entertainment editor his name is Mark Manuel (sic)," she wrote.

The collage below includes publicly available photos of Abu Salem and Mark Manuel and Abu Salem and shows that it was the latter who was photographed with Ranaut in the viral photo.

Abu Salem (left), Mark Manuel (center) and the viral image. (Source: The Indian Express/Instagram/ @markmanuel2609/ X)

The verdict

A 2017 photograph of actor-turned-politician Kangana Ranaut posing with entertainment journalist Mark Manuel has been falsely portrayed as evidence of Ranaut "partying" with the notorious gangster Abu Salem. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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