For the last week, as the arrest and detention of activist Disha Ravi made headlines, social media users have been trying their best to play Russian roulette with the facts. Unless you've been living under a rock, you are likely aware of the fact that the climate change activist from Bengaluru was arrested on Saturday for her alleged role in formulating and propagating the protest 'toolkit' shared by Greta Thunberg. The contentious document had laid down a plan of action for supporters of the ongoing farmers' agitation.
Over the last few days, much has been said about Disha's age and her credentials. And as is the wont for online debates, tendrils of incorrect information have woven themselves into the narrative. While some allege that she is a single mother, others contend that her real name is Disha Ravi Joseph or that she has her roots in Syria. Tweeted by verified handles and officials as well as influencers with thousands of followers, the rumours have now been picked up by hundreds of social media users, amplified into trending topics on Twitter.
But is there any truth to these rumours?
To begin with, Disha Ravi is not a Syrian Christian who has deliberately omitted part of her name. Multiple reports that quote her friends and family have refuted the claims. According to a report by The News Minute that quotes Prasanna R, a lawyer and close friend of her family, her name is not 'Disha Ravi Joseph'.
"She has not followed any religion though she was brought up in a Lingayat household," the article quotes Prasanna as saying, wondering why this would be a relevant topic of debate in the first place. Disha's friends echo the update. As one of her friends told the publication, her name was 'Disha A Ravi'.
"Her mother's name is Manjula Nanjaiah, father is Ravi Annappa," Prasanna adds.
Nor, it would seem, is Disha Ravi a single mother. While some reports had initially claimed that Disha was a single mother and the sole breadwinner for her family, subsequent reports have debunked this. Add to this the fact that some of those earlier reports have now been edited to remove the claim about her being a single parent.
Multiple publications and fact checking sites including The Quint have quoted her friends and family as refuting the claim. But here at least, the confusion seems to have some context, with Disha's mother reportedly being a single parent. An article by The Hindu for example talks about how Disha had lived with her single mother.