An image of an old lady claimed as Kamaladevi Hazarika has been widely circulated across social media and WhatsApp. The image has gone viral in the context of claims spreading across social media alleging illegal conversions of Hindus by Christian missionaries.
Recently, there have been misleading allegations across social media which claim that a Hindu religious temple was converted into a mosque. The Logical Indian Fact Check Team found out in the report, the religious structure in question was a Jain temple.
The viral posts show multiple images of an old lady in sepia tones and colour. The viral posts claim that a "famous revolutionary of Assam, Kamala Devi Hazarika" had rebuked a Christian missionary who was attempting to trick her to convert to Christianity. Several photos of the old lady are shared with the viral posts claiming that she is Kamala Devi Hazarika.
The claim is quite extensive and reads as follows:
"A Christian missionary was sent to Assam, the name was Father Cruz. He got an opportunity to teach English to a boy from a very influential family in Assam. It was during this time that he came to know that the child's grandmother is the most influential person in this house. The father thought that if she is caught in the web of the teachings of Jesus, then through her the whole family and then the whole village can be converted into Christianity!
The priest started telling grandmother how Jesus used to cure leprosy and how he used to give light to the blind. Grandmother said, son, that is nothing compared to the miracles of our Lord Ram and Lord Krishna. You have heard that when our Ram touched a stone, it turned into a living woman, with the effect of the name of Ram, the stone used to float in the water, it is still floating today.
Upon hearing this, the pastor stayed silent but continued his efforts. One day the pastor brought a cake from the church and gave it to the grandmother to eat. The pastor believed that Grandma would not eat, but against her expectation, Grandma took the cake and ate it. The pastor sahib got up with a proud frenzied giggle in his eyes and said, "Grandma, you ate the church's offerings! You are a Christian now."
Grandma pulled the priest's ear and said, "Wow, donkey! If you fed me cake one day, I became a Christian and I feed you every day from my house, so why didn't you become a Hindu? Every day you take the air and water from this land of Sanatan Dharma, and then you should have become Hindu till now!"
This grandmother, who saved herself, her religion and the nation from being misguided and going in the wrong direction, was the famous revolutionary of Assam "Kamala Devi Hazarika" Who knows this story of Assam? Is it not our duty that the country should get information about her?".
This similar claim went viral across Twitter as well in 2021.
It is being widely shared on Facebook as well.
The Logical Indian fact check team verified the claim and found it to be false. The viral image is of social activist and freedom fighter Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay.
We conducted a reverse image search on one of the images circulated with the viral post. We came across this image uploaded on an India Today article, published on April 3, 2018.
We conducted another reverse image search of the images which were claimed to be featuring Kamaladevi Hazarika. However, we found that these images also showed the freedom fighter, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. We found the image in this Indian Express article published on April 17, 2018.
As per the information from the India Today and the Indian Express articles, Kamaladevi was born on April 3, 1903, in Mangaluru, as the youngest daughter of Ananthaya Dhareshwar and his wife Girijamma.
After being married and widowed at the age of 14, Kamaladevi later became friends with and eventually married Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Sarojini Naidu's brother. She joined the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1927 to support the freedom struggle. She was among the few national leaders who became the signatories of the new Constitution of India document after Independence. Chattopadhyay has been recognised as a prominent feminist, artist, actor and promoter of traditional drama, art, puppetry, music, and handicrafts. Kamaladevi was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1955 and with the Padma Vibhushan in 1987. She was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award as well.
Noted historian Ramachandra Guha wrote about Chattopadhyay in his book Makers of Modern India. He wrote a detailed account of her life which contained no mention of the conversion incident that was mentioned in the viral post. Out of the detailed account, we couldn't find any mention of her settling in Assam in the book written by Guha.
We also came across this essay written by Chattopadhyay on religion in the book, as quoted by Guha. In this quote, she writes about Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. She states, "The Christian crusader fought no more for the Christian holy land than do the Muslim masses for their sacred Pakistan."
The book did, however, contain a short mention of her religious views. The author states, "...She has, however, never allowed herself to lapse into religiosity either as a means of escaping from pressures of the world or as a means of gaining favours …Service has to her been the highest form of worship and it continues that way even now."
One of the only mentions in the book of a Christian missionary is about her travels to Washington, U.S. She was invited to Kansas University to deliver an address where she mentioned the political consequences of Christian missionaries in India.
Further on, we could not find any information about any personality by the name Kamala Devi Hazarika from Assam. We found that this same claim is being circulated in various blogs at least since 2017. The same story can be read on this blog here. We could not find any credible reports on the personality Kamala Devi Hazarika from Assam.
In our investigation, we found that there weren't any credible reports on the personality Kamala Devi Hazarika from Assam. We found that the images being shared with the viral posts are images of the freedom fighter Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya.
In our fact check, we came across no mention of Chattopadhyay travelling to Assam and settling there. Nor did we find any mention of a Christian missionary named Cruz, who allegedly converted her to Christianity, as per the claim. Such a fact would have been highlighted as Kamaladevi was outspoken about her religious views and had commented on Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. Several historians and scholars have written about her life and have not mentioned a story of a Christian missionary named Cruz who attempted to trick her to convert her to Christianity. Hence, the viral claim is false.
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