Ever since actress Urmila Matondkar joined the Congress and announced her Lok Sabha candidacy for a Parliamentary seat in Mumbai, social media has been rife with fake, malicious news and content targeting her.
Multiple Facebook and Twitter posts claim that Matondkar changed her name to "Mariyam Akhtar Mir" before she married a Kashmiri Muslim businessman in March 2016. But official election documents from April 2019 show that the actress is still registered as Urmila Matondkar.
This claim was made in this Facebook post on March 27, 2019, which has been shared dozens of times.
The post contains a wedding photo of Matondkar and her husband Mohsin Akhtar Mir, which was widely published by local media in 2016, including here on a Bollywood website.
The misleading post's Telugu-language caption says:
"Love jihad. Urmila Matondkar is a prominent actress who acted in Hindi and Telugu movies. She is also one among many women who are victims of Love Jihad.
"She married a Kashmiri Muslim, Mohsin Akhtar Mir despite him being nine years younger than her. He is also a member of Indian National Congress. She converted to Islam and changed her name to Mariyam Akhtar Mir before getting married.
"She has now joined Indian National Congress. Muslim and Christian religious fanatics are converting prominent Hindu women to their religion. And this is a planned propaganda being taken up the Muslim and Christian religious fanatics."
The claim about Matondkar changing her name before her marriage has been shared elsewhere on Facebook, and on Twitter (the post has since been deleted from the latter)
On her official Twitter account, Matondkar describes herself as an actress and the Congress candidate for Mumbai North Constituency in India's 2019 Elections. In a tweet posted on the Congress Party’s verified Twitter account on March 27, 2019, she was officially welcomed to the party.
Matondkar married Kashmiri businessman Mohsin Akhtar Mir on March 3, 2016, according to media reports, and social media posts by fellow-celebrities such as stylist Manish Malhotra.
But according to multiple official election documents from 2019, Matondkar is not using the name Mariyam Akhtar Mir.
In an April 8, 2019 affidavit, published on the website of the Election Commission of India, her name is listed as “Urmila Shrikant Matondkar”.
On the official list of Congress candidates, her name is listed as: "Smt. Urmila Matondkar".
According to regulation 6 in this handbook for Indian election candidates, the name a candidate lists on official documents must exactly match the name they have listed on the electoral rolls or they risk disqualification.
Below is a screenshot of the relevant regulation:
On Matondkar’s verified social media profiles – on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – she uses the name Urmila Matondkar.
Matondkar has repeatedly denied changing her religion in media interviews. In an interview with fact check website BoomLive, Mohsin Akhtar Mir also denied that his wife had converted to Islam.