The news of a girl being allegedly gang-raped in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh was widely reported on Tuesday. This was after the alleged victim’s family filed a complaint on Monday claiming that the 17-year-old girl was reportedly picked up by four persons and taken to a secluded place where they raped her for days.
Most of the media outlets relied on news copies from PTI, ANI or Hindustan Times, whose reporter Vasistha Bharadwaj had written a comprehensive report quoting police officials.
According to the HT report, the girl was reportedly waiting for a public transport to go to her maternal uncle’s home on 6 September, when four youth, whom she knew, offered her a ride in their car. They apparently told her that they were also going towards Muzaffarnagar.
However, once in the car, the complaint said, the men allegedly put a gun on her head and abducted her. She was allegedly taken to a secluded location and gang-raped for ten days, even ‘forced’ to eat meat and , most crucially, asked to change her religion.
The alleged victim was later left by the accused near her village, PTI quoted police. According to FIR, the four accused were identified as Saleem, Aslam, Akram and Ayub in the case.
The report by Hindustan Times on the ‘force-feeding’ of meat and being asked to change her religion was based on the ‘complaint’ filed by the girl. The only clear attribution in the HT report was when the reporter quoted the circle officer, Mohammad Rizwan, who said that there might be an exaggeration in the girl’s complaint.
He told the paper, “We are investigating the case. Nothing can be said with clarity as of now, but prima facie it appears there might be some exaggeration in the application that the girl gave.”
However, a user followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, went to town with half-truth with what appeared to be an intention to communalise an alleged crime against a girl.
Anshul Saxena, who has a verified accunt with blue tick, wrote on his Twitter page, “Salim, Aslam, Akram, Ayub kidnapped a Girl & raped her for 10 days in Muzaffarnagar, UP. Forced to eat Meat and Convert to Islam.”
Muzaffarnagar Police instantly rejected the allegations of girl being forced to eat meat. A tweet was posted from Muzaffarnagar Police’s official Twitter handle saying, “The news girl being forced to eat meat was wrongly published. No such incident has taken place.”
It is quite dangerous that an individual, followed by PM Modi, chose to only highlight the names of alleged rapists because they were Muslims and focussed on alleged force-feeding and conversion to ‘Islam’ in his tweet. Nowhere did Saxena’s tweet state that this was a mere allegation and that the cops had suspected exaggeration in her claims.
The agenda, it seems, was to further poison the atmosphere of an already communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar. The fact that once again a troll followed by India’s PM was behind this dirty design did not come as a surprise to many.
The culprits must face the wrath if the allegations against them are true, but it’s wrong to cherry-pick half information to spread the lies on social media to pit one community against the other equally a criminal act.