A photograph of a woman covered in a blue blanket, lying on a hospital bed, wearing an oxygen mask with tubes and wires connected to digital monitors, has been shared widely on social media platforms in Tamil Nadu and the rest of the country, under the false assumption that it is Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
The picture was shared after DMK President M Karunanidhi asked the Tamil Nadu government to release photographic evidence of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at the Apollo Hospital.
A reverse image search, however, reveals that the photograph is originally from Peru and is dated August 20, 2009. The photograph belongs to EsSalud hospital in Lima and its website carries the same picture with the caption “An Intensive Care Unit bed in an EsSalud Hospital”. With other images from EsSalud hospital, the site also states, “All of these pictures from Peru were taken by University of Rochester Biomedical Engineering students on a trip they took funded by a grant. They are used with permission by Scott Seidman.”
And if you still don’t believe that the photograph is from EsSalud hospital, click here. And if that’s not enough proof, the logo of the hospital has been pasted on the wall on the right-hand side of the photograph.
We have chosen to publish this article after a number of media outlets in states such as Kerala and Karnataka carried the photograph stating that the woman in it is Jayalalithaa.
Jayalalithaa was admitted at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai late on September 22 with a medical bulletin stating that she was suffering from a fever and dehydration. Since her hospitalisation, there have been only four bulletins released, informing the public about the status of her health. Governor Vidyasagar Rao visited the Chief Minister in hospital on Saturday. A press statement issued by the Raj Bhavan states that “she is recovering well”.
Jayalalithaa has been admitted in the Main Block of the Greames Road hospital. Security has been considerably beefed up since her hospitalisation, with police posted outside and inside the hospital. Despite a number of party cadres and leaders flocking to the hospital, it has become a fortress with entry restricted only to patients, their visitors and to cabinet ministers and selected bureaucrats. Moreover, the Chief Minister’s room has been off-limits to most leaders except to her aide Sasikala and Sasikala’s niece’s husband Dr Shivakumar.