A controversy erupted on December 17th when Rajasthan Police Twitter handle goofed up and ended up terming a real incident as fake news. A user had Tweeted about an incident in Utambar, Rajasthan where allegedly, some men had entered a Rajput’s home and misbehaved with his daughters. The Twitter user claimed that these were Muslim Congress supporters. Along with his tweet, he had attached a video as well.
As it turns out, the video was of an old incident that took place in Ranchi, Jharkhand. However, the Rajasthan police Twitter handle took a screenshot of just the text part of the tweet and asserted that the news was fake.
We spoke to the investigating officer of the Utambar case and got a confirmation that the incident from Utambar was indeed true. However, the Rajasthan police Twitter handle had clearly goofed up in not including the screenshot of the old video posted by the Twitter user while terming it fake news and erroneously ended up terming the Utambar incident as fake news.
What followed was nothing short of shocking. We were contacted by the PR agency that runs the Rajasthan Twitter feed and was asked, repeatedly, to alter our headline with Direct messages of tweets and articles by propagandist websites and handles. We did not. Then, when the agency persisted, we asked them to the first tweet and acknowledge publicly that they indeed goofed up and that the Utambar incident was not fake.
However, the next day on 18th November, the PR agency handling Rajasthan police’s Twitter account tweeted denying even the Utambar incident where girls were misbehaved with.
हम अपने पिछले ट्वीट पर कायम हैं। @Ashok6510 ने एक पुराने और किसी अन्य जगह का वीडियो को लेकर उसे उटाम्बर का बताया था (see screenshot)। उटाम्बर में घर मे घुस कर बहनो पर हमले जैसी कोई घटना नही हुई थी (see FIR).।
कुछ साथी अभी भी अफवाह फैलाने की पुरजोर कोशिश कर रहे हैं। ऐसा न करें। pic.twitter.com/8GKpg62fA7
— Rajasthan Police (@PoliceRajasthan) December 18, 2018
Before talking about the latest conversation, it is imperative that we go back a little in time to 17th December. I had personally spoken to the investigating officer in the Utambar case and got the details.
In the conversation, first, the IO confirmed that there was a complaint of girls being misbehaved with. This conversation took place on the 17th itself. The IO had said that this entire disturbance in Utambar was the result of a political clash when after winning, Congress was taking out a victory procession. Supporters of ‘another party’ had raised objection and filed a complaint about hooliganism. That was followed by a counter FIR, presumably by Congressmen. In the initial complaint, there was no accusation of the girls being misbehaved. However, later, that complaint was also made.
In this audio, the IO clearly says that there were injuries on the two girls and their medical tests were also conducted. At that time, the test results were due.
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A second part of the conversation is posted below. In this portion, the IO confirmed that 7 arrests have been made in this regard. According to a Dainik Bhaskar report dated 17th December, the name of the ones arrested in this case are Firoz Khan’s son Huzur Khan Bhojakor, Alawataya’s son Elidwanwan Rawat, Rauf Khan’s son Fakir Khan Rawat and Mojboor Khan’s son Hameed Khan. They also found two jeeps used in the incident. At the time of this conversation, the IO was not at his station and could not recall the names of the top of his head, considering the number of criminals he must deal with on a regular basis, that was understandable.
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This conversation was on the 17th. On 18th of December 2018, the PR agency that handles Rajasthan Police’s Twitter handle has summarily denied that any incident took place in Utambar where girls were misbehaved with.
After I saw the Rajasthan Police’s tweet, I called up the Investigating Officer again to take an update on the case. Wondering if the status has changed or perhaps, I had misunderstood everything that the gentleman had said.
When I called up the IO on 20th, much after the Twitter handle of Rajasthan Police had denied any misbehaviour with the girls in Utambar, the gentleman confirmed against that the investigation in the case was still on. He said that the men arrested had already been produced in court. These were the ones accused of hooliganism including misbehaving with the two girls.
He said that the investigation is on in both FIR and counter FIR. The first was against the side which was celebrating their electoral victory (Congress) and the other, was a counter FIR by those celebrating their victory against supporters of the ‘other party’.
The IO confirmed that the reports of the medical tests conducted on the girls have been submitted to the court and now, they are waiting for a date from the magistrate so the girls can make their statements in front of the magistrate.
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The only way that Rajasthan Police Twitter handle could dismiss the claims and say that no molestation took place with the girls in Utambar, is if the girls had withdrawn their complaint, or if the investigating officer or the courts had dismissed the complaints concluding that no molestation had taken place. But, it is evident from our conversations with the Investigating Officer that the case of misbehaviour with the girls in Utambar is still very much under investigation. The Rajasthan Police has not yet confirmed whether molestation happened or not.
In fact, the PR agency handling the Twitter handle was downright dishonest when it uploaded the FIR to insinuate no misbehaviour took place with the girls considering the IO has confirmed that this incident was not included in the original FIR but came to light only 2 days or so after the first FIR was filed.
It is thus intriguing that the PR agency that handles the Twitter account of Rajasthan Police would go out on a limb and tarnish the image of the Rajasthan Police by outright lying about an ongoing investigation just to save their own skin and cover-up their own goof-up.
The Rajasthan Police has been extremely forthcoming in providing information and clarifying where the investigation stands. The PR agency that made a blunder by not including the screenshot of the video they were trying to refute is now brazening it out by calling the Utambar incident itself ‘fake news’.
We reached out to Rajasthan Police against for their comment on the Twitter handle’s false info. We have received no response yet. We also tried to reach out to the family of the girls who has alleged physical assault, but the family is scared and refused to talk to us. This could be because there is also a counter FIR or, because of some pressure. But that will only be revealed after a full investigation.
It would certainly be in the interest of Rajasthan police to get rid of an agency that has the temerity to lie on social media about an ongoing police investigation just to cover their own tracks thereby misleading the citizens.