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The Wire and IndiaSpend’s Factchecker journalist caught trying to manipulate Dalit victims who were attacked by local Muslims to prove ‘no hate crime’

Activist accuses IndiaSpend's Factchecker of trying to manipulate Dalit victims who were attacked by local Muslims to prove 'no hate crime'

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

Activist Sanjeev Newar today released audio recordings of and TheWire journalist ‘Umesh’ with a minor Dalit victim from Begusarai who, along with his family, was attacked by local Muslim goons, trying to force them to sell their home. The shocking audio recording reveals how the ‘fact-checking’ journalist tried to manipulate the minor boy to try and show that there was no communal and hate angle in the actions of the Muslim goons.

In the above audio recording ‘Umesh’ introduces himself as a journalist associated with faulty ‘fact-checker’ as well as propaganda website TheWire. He is asking the victim to explain the incident which took place in June in detail. While the date of the recording is not clear, it can be inferred from above conversation that it took place sometime in July. The minor boy narrates the tale and says how his mother had been on the receiving end of sexual abuse where the local Muslim goons would watch her lecherously when she would take a bath. He speaks about another incident which had taken place a month prior to the June 10 incident.

He adds how the villagers asked them to ignore the sexual abuse. He adds how later in another incident, his sister was forced to clean the streets. The boy mentions how he had filed a complaint of it even back then. The ‘fact-checker’ journalist then asks the boy whether the local Muslim goons even harassed the other Hindu neighbours. The boy then reveals how the other Hindu families would follow instructions of the local Muslim goons and do whatever work they were asked to do.

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The other Dalit families were forced to carry out menial tasks by the goons, which the boy’s family refused to do. The boy says how no one in their family does the cleaning and sweeping work and hence they would refuse. The victim then adds the regular veiled threats they would receive from the local Muslim goons who would ask them to leave the place. The reporter than questions the boy whether the Bajrang Dal was involved in filing the police complaint.

He asks the boy whether the people associated with Bajrang Dal asked him to file the police complaint and if they instructed them to report the incident in such manner. The boy holds his ground and mentions that the Bajrang Dal people helped him file the report but he clarifies how he himself wrote the statement in the police station.

The reporter then shamelessly asks the minor boy whether the Muslims informed them that they were being beaten up because they were Hindus.

“They must not be saying such a thing,” the reporter asks the boy. Essentially, the ‘fact-checker’ journalist implied that the hate crime would not exist if the perpetrator would not specify that he is committing a hate crime. And as expected, this incident does not feature in ‘Factchecker’s hate crime tracker’. Despite the taunts by the ‘fact-checker’ journalist, the boy held his ground.

He mentions how he does not have any video recording but has enough photographs. He adds how the local Muslim goons would often ask them to move because ‘why should they want to stay in a Muslim-dominated locality?’. He adds how they would often tell them to leave their homes and move to a Hindu belt. He adds how they didn’t take such taunts seriously till they were attacked. “You still study, right? You must be seeing all these Hindu-Muslim stories. So I want to know whether you will consider this incident a crime or communal crime? What do you think? Were you attacked because you are a Hindu? If the house belonged to a Muslim, they would have still done the same,” the journalist asked the boy.

The boy very categorically stated how the Hindus in the locality are ostracised. That the are not allowed to even play devotional songs. He specifies that they are being victimised because they are Hindus. The journalist then asks if the things are normal there now. The boy mentions how his mother was threatened to close the case.

In June, Swarajya had reported that a Hindu family was attacked by a few locals Muslims who were pressuring them to sell their house and leave. The Muslim mob had previously threatened the family saying that the locality has few Hindu families and thus they wouldn’t be able to help them with the issue. “Even Bajrang Dal won’t help you,” the men allegedly told the family, that lives in refinery area of Barauni tehsil’s Nurpur village.

Victim Munni Kumari in her complaint states that of the three men entered her house at 1 am, two were masked and one was completely naked. The naked man began to rape her mother, while one of the masked men turned towards her and tore off her kurta. The other masked man held a pistol at her brother’s head. Finally, the struggle ended and the family managed to get out of their grip, but one of the men tried to strangulate her brother. His brother was thrashed by the Muslim men, who also threw a cycle at them.

However, in what appeared to be an attempt to shield the culprits, police changed the complaint of a Dalit family in Begusarai district in Bihar. The family had submitted a written complaint in the case as no police officer was present in the police station. One of the culprits has been identified by the family as their neighbour Laddu Alam son of Feroze Alam.

Sections 447 (trespass), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354A (making sexually coloured remarks) and 354B (assault or use of criminal force with the intent to disrobe) were applied among others but the Prevention of Atrocities against SCs and STs Act (SC/ST Act) was not applied.

On June 13, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) stepped in and sent a notice to Begusarai District Magistrate and SP informing that the Commission has taken suo moto cognisance of the case. The Commission has demanded the details of the FIRs, sections of the SC/ST Act applied, medical examination of the women, arrests in the case, copy of statements under sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC and the security and the monetary aid provided to the family.

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