Self-proclaimed fact-checking portal AltNews not only tried to whitewash the brutal murder of two-and-a-half-year-old Tina (name changed) in Aligarh but also conjured up statements and wrongly attributed the same to Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhary.
In its report dated 6th June, AltNews had quoted SSP Kulhary and said,
Alt News contacted Akash Kulhary, SSP Aligarh who confirmed that the post-mortem report does not mention rape, adding, “The post-mortem report mentions death by strangulation as the cause.The claims circulating on social media that the victim’s eyes were gouged out and her arm amputated, are also false. Also, the claim that acid was poured on her body, is untrue. No such thing has occurred. The post-mortem report has been shared with the family of the victim.”
OpIndia got in touch with SSP Kulhary who denied having given any such quote to AltNews. Speaking to OpIndia, SSP Kulhary clarified that the post-mortem report had no such claims whether the child was raped or not. He added that the police have sent the post-mortem report to at least two hospitals right now with queries.
OpIndia asked SSP Kulhary whether he gave any statement to AltNews where he denied that the victim’s eyes were not gouged out and her arm was not amputated. SSP Kulhary categorically denied having given the statement.
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(if the audio player above is not working or you can’t see an audio player, click here to listen to the conversation on Youtube)
OpIndia: There is a quote in your name by one website called AltNews where they have quoted you saying that the claim…
SSP Kulhary: Nahin, amputation of right arm has taken place. Report mein likha hua hai (it is written in the report).
OpIndia: So kya unhone galat quote attribute kiya hoga? (So have they wrongly attributed the quote to you?)
SSP Kulhary: Yes, obviously. I think so.
SSP Kuhlary then said that the updates, in this case, can be expected in 3-4 days.
As can be seen, not only does AltNews whitewash the crimes of Zahid and Aslam, it also cooks up quotes by police officers to ‘debunk’ social media ‘lies’.
In its report titled “Murder of a child in Aligarh: Fact-checking social media claims”, AltNews had accused OpIndia of ‘falsely claiming’ that the victim’s eyes were gouged out. To debunk this, he had used SSP Kulhary’s made-up statement. However, post-mortem report mentioned ‘eye tissue absent, orbital socket intact’.
OpIndia showed the post-mortem report to a couple of doctors and they said that the baby died due to injuries caused to her. “The injuries were severe enough to lead to shock and eventually death. Shock is confirmed by the collapse of vessels (antemortem sign). Major blood loss happened before death,” a doctor confirmed that there were brutalities on the child.
“The most important of all is that her abdominal organs are missing, including the uterus and genital organs. She might have been subjected to extreme torture and this can also be the cause of excessive blood loss and collapse of the blood vessels. Other injuries include fracture of the leg below knee and amputation of humerus (arm). These injuries point towards brutality. Vaginal swabs have been taken for examination but due to decomposition, they are less likely to be useful. It should be made clear that negative results on swab does not rule out a sexual act.”
“The injuries 2 (right arm amputated) and 3 (left leg fracture) are definitely before her death. Her abdominal organs are missing. That is also most likely an antemortem act. But cannot confirm based on this report. They have not mentioned if the abdomen was open or was the coverings decomposed. The opening of the left side of the chest is also confusing. It can be an antemortem or decomposition in case the body was lying on the left side,” the doctor said.
Amusingly, the same set of self-declared activists find a police statement the ultimate truth when it suits them while rejecting even court observations when it doesn’t suit them. We have all seen how despite multiple policemen and investigation reports saying so, these self-proclaimed ‘fact-checkers’ do not believe police statements declaring Ishrat Jahan a terrorist.
Further, another ground report by Swarajya’s Swati Goel Sharma has revealed that another perpetrator, Aslam, has been booked twice under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
In 2014, Aslam was booked under IPC 376 (rape) and sections 3 and 4 of POCSO (penetrative sexual assault) Act for raping his nine-year-old daughter after taking her to a field (FIR number 41/14). In 2015, he was booked under the UP Goonda Act under various sections (FIR number 43/015).
Similarly, in 2017, Aslam was booked under sections 452 (house-trespass) and 354 (outraging modesty of a woman) and sections 7 and 8 of POCSO (sexual assault) for molesting a minor girl after breaking into her house (FIR number 76/017).
In addition, locals also spoke about a prominent case where Aslam sexually assaulted a minor boy for two weeks. Mohit Pratap Singh, Aslam’s neighbour confirmed that “about two years ago, he brought a minor boy from Delhi and kept him in confinement for two weeks. It was only after a police team from Delhi raided his house and rescued the boy that we came to even know about it.” Scores of locals corroborated this incident.
However, once the post-mortem report was out, AltNews updated its original report to state that they once again contacted SSP Kulhary who confirmed that the arm was amputated. Essentially, they first ‘debunked’ the social media claim that the child was subjected to brutality and then updated the report to add how ‘oh, well, only her arm was amputated’. Instead of retracting the shoddy piece, AltNews ended up downplaying the brutality.
Now that the SSP has categorically denied having given such statement to AltNews, one wonders how they reached this conclusion in the first place.
This throws light on multiple points.
- AltNews relied on a police officer’s statement instead of a post-mortem to ‘fact-check’ social media rumours.
- AltNews conjured up and wrongly attributed a statement to a police officer contrary to the post-mortem report to prove a point.
- AltNews not only whitewashes crimes but also creates its own evidence to ‘fact-check’ cases as per its own whims and fancies.
- AltNews also does not know that preliminary post-mortem report (in Aligarh case or any other case) would not mention whether rape has taken place or not. In Kathua rape and murder case too, the post-mortem report mentioned blood on labia, vulval lacerations, vaginal bleeding, hymen not intact and blood marks on the thighs and abdomen. Essentially, the post-mortem report or an autopsy is an examination of the corpse to determine the cause of death or to evaluate the injury. According to a doctor OpIndia spoke to, usually, the confirmation of rape is done after swab reports. Aligarh post-mortem report was a preliminary one and the viscera/swab report takes about a week to a month to come by. Preliminary reports would usually be inconclusive.
- AltNews chose to ‘fact-check’ these social media claims as if social media was highlighting this case only because the perpetrators were Muslims and the crime was committed during the holy month of Ramzan.
Maybe AltNews should stick to ‘fact-checking’ memes.