Three-month-old photo showing Balen Shah and President Bhandari shared with misleading claims

Pravin Bhatta / July 5, 2022

A photo of Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s newly elected mayor, Balendra Shah (Balen), with President Bidya Devi Bhandari went viral on June 30. The photo shows Shah standing in front of Bhandari, who is sitting on her chair at a distance. Nepali Facebook and Twitter users claimed that this photo was of a recent meeting between Mayor Shah and President Bhandari. A Facebook page named ‘Alternative for Nepal,’ which has over 347,000 followers, posted the photo on June 30 along with the title: “What is your opinion about this (meeting?) between Kathmandu Metropolitan City mayor and President Bidya Devi Bhandari?” On the same date, the Facebook page of a news website Gandaki Samaj, which has over 125,000 followers, posted the photo stating that the photo was from a meeting between Mayor Shah and President Bhandari.

Screenshot of Claim on Twitter
Screenshot of Claim on Facebook

We fact checked this claim.

Social media posts claimed that this photo was of a meeting between Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Shah and President Bhandari. To fact check we performed a quick reverse image search. This led us to a news report published on May 9 on Nepal Press. The report directed us to the official Facebook page of Mayor Shah. Mayor Shah had posted the photo on March 24. Shah had posted three photos along with a status that said the meeting discussed the water crisis in Nepal. He added President Bhandari had called the meeting with experts from various fields. According to him, water resource expert Dipak Gyawali was also present at the meeting. Shah had posted three photos, one of them showing people present at the meeting wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. Water resources expert Gyawali confirmed his presence at the meeting through a tweet. Nepal Press also reported both Shah and Gyawali were present at the meeting on the occasion of the World Water Day, which is celebrated every year on March 22.

Screenshot of Balendra Shah’s Facebook Post

Shah was elected as mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City in the local elections of May 13. He took the oath of office on May 30. This particular photo is three-months old, as Shah himself posted it on March 24. Shah was not the mayor at the time of the meeting.

Fact Check

Claim: The meeting between Mayor Shah and President Bhandari is recent.

Claimed By:  Various posts on social media.

Verdict: Misleading.

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