We are entitled to our opinions, not our facts. Sadly, since the horrific Kathua gang-rape has unravelled, vile opinions have been masquerading as ‘facts’ to change the narrative. As usual, the battle has reached social media where WhatsApp and other mediums are being used to fuel conspiracy theories which seek to somehow justify the rape-murder or give it a different angle.
Here are two different sets of WhatsApp rumours that are being widely spread and de-construction of the lies being spread on social media based on the charge-sheet filed by the SIT.There are namely two rounds of lies going around.
(DNA is removing the name of the victim and parents to protect the victim’s identity)
WhatsApp Claim 1) Victim’s parents were murdered few years back on some property dispute.
Fact: Victim’s biological parents are alive.
Victim’s real parents are alive and well. They had given her to her adoptive parents (biological father’s brother-in-law and sister) after the latter had lost three sons and a daughter in a road accident.
In fact, the victim’s biological father had told Hindustan Times: “My brother-in-law and his wife had lost their three sons and a daughter in a road accident in Mansar a few years ago. To bring them out of pain and agony, I and my wife decided to give our youngest daughter to them and we did so when she was barely one year old.”
WhatsApp Claim 2) There is huge property in her name.
Fact: No evidence to suggest victim had property in her name
There is no evidence to suggest there was any property in her name. Also, as mentioned above, the victim’s biological parents are alive.
WhatsApp Claim 3) She was staying with her maternal aunt (Masi).
Fact: She was adopted by her biological father’s brother-in-law.
She was adopted by her biological father’s brother-in-law, ergo she was staying with her maternal uncle (Mama and Mami).
WhatsApp Claim 4) Girl might have become victim of property hunger or something else needs independent probe.
Fact: As said earlier, the girl was not an orphan, hence there is no question of her having access to large amount of property.
WhatsApp Claim 5) Sanji Ram main accused has been requesting people not to sell their land to Muslims due to demographic change of Jammu.
Fact: Sanji Ram had a problem with Bakerwals, had harangued individual for selling land to them
The charge sheet mentions that the main-accused harangued an individual for selling property to a Bakerwal. However, there’s no mention of a motive of murder involving property. The main accused Sanji Ram’s plan was to drive the Bakerwal community from the land.
The charge-sheet mentions Sanji Ram didn’t want locals to sell property to a Bakerwal and used to harangue a neighbour who did.
WhatsApp Claim 6) Other police SPOs have been instrumental in catching lots of bovine smugglers and we’re irking in the eye of local notorious Bakerwal smuggler.
Fact: Sanji Ram and his men hatched conspiracy to drive away Bakerwal community
The investigation found that the main aim was to drive away the Bakerwal community with the main-accused being Sanji Ram. They also believed that the minority community practised cow slaughter.
The 18-page charge-sheet filed by the police in court states: “During investigation it transpired that a particular community had a general impression that the Bakerwals indulge in cow slaughter and drug trafficking.”
WhatsApp Claim 7) Police started investigation but team was changed immediately and SHO suspended.
Fact: Police team initially carrying out investigation was found guilty of tampering of evidence
An earlier investigation was being done by police personnel who have been apprehended and were part of the conspiracy. They are special police officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria, SPO Surinder Kumar, sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj.
Tilak Raj went to school with Sanji Ram’s sister (juvenile accused’s mother) and took money to scuttle the probe. SPO Deepak Khajuria, who wanted to rape the victim one last time before killing her finally committed the murder with juvenile-accused.
Anand Dutta, a sub-inspector, received Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram to try scuttle the probe. Surinder Kumar, another SPO was doing recce for the main accused and was spotted near the Devisthan by a witness.
Meanwhile, SHO of Hirangar Police Station was suspended on January 20, 2018 after outrage in the J&K Assembly. This was done when the entire blame was being put on the juvenile-accused.
WhatsApp Claim 8) New team from Kashmir have come and started investigation. SIT in charge himself is rape accused and close to Hurriyat. They found best man to change the investigation and picked up all young boys of Rasana area.
Fact: Rape and murder accusation was against one of the team members who was acquitted in 2014.
Accusations that SIT-in-charge was rape accused is wrong. The SIT functioned under the supervision of IGPs of Crime Aloke Puri and Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba, and SSP Crime Branch Jammu Ramesh Kumar Jalla.
It also had Additional SP Naveed Pirzada, Deputy SP Shwetambri Sharma, Sub Inspector Irfan Wani, Inspector KK Gupta and Assistant Sub Inspector Tariq Ahmad.
The rape accusation was against Irfan Wani. Speaking about his involvement, SSP Ramesh Kumar Jalla told The Quint that he wasn’t aware of the allegations against Wani and got to know that he was accused of raping a girl and killing a young boy.
He said: “He was acquitted in both cases around 2014. If the man is acquitted by the judiciary of the country there is no sense to not include him as part of my team. I had an excellent team that did a good job of delivering a chargesheet.”
Villages had demanded a CBI probe claiming they were being harassed by the J&K Police Crime Branch.
ADG Crime Branch had said that it was part of investigation to question people and had denied harassing them.
WhatsApp Claim 9) Situation of panic was created and locals of Rasana moved out of their villages and took shelter in nearby town govt school. This is what they wanted.. how to drive out Dogras from Jammu.
Fact: Bakerwal community was forced to bury their daughter outside Rasana village
The claim that Dogras were driven out of the town is unsubstantiated. In fact, it’s the Bakerwals who were forced to bury their daughter 8 km from the Rasana village because of pressure.
The nomadic Bakerwals were also forced forced to leave the village, earlier than usual.
WhatsApp 10) Third team of investigation was created under crime branch and they just built up on the already politically motivated investigation carried out by Kashmir based SIT.
Fact: Case transferred to Crime Branch after four personnel of the first team were accused of trying to cover-up investigations.
The investigation of the case was transferred to the Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch on January 22, 2018. The SIT which found that the local police were trying to cover-up the crime and four personnel were named in the charge-sheet.
Other claims on Whatsapp:
11. Lal Singh being a health minister was instrumental in bringing AIIMS like institute to Jammu and land identified has been encroached by duggars.
12. Lal Singh took action to vacate all forest land from encroachment.
13. Duggars protested and met Mehbooba Mufti.
14. Mufti held meeting and directed police not to provide any help to forest department and let Duggars encroach Govt land.
15. Political narrative prepared with all media houses.
16. Mufti met Rajnath and social media picked up.
17. Genuine demands of Duggars died down and CBI inquiry will expose Mufti and her nefarious design so complete world would know the truth.
18. Center will take time and meanwhile Jammu is lost like we lost Kashmir.
19. Common man will be in fear and run towards Punjab.
Most of the claims are random words strung together but the there are two narratives here. One is the fact that CM Mehbooba Mufti had directed police not to help anti-encroachment drives carried out by the Forest Department. She had asked that no tribal ought to be harassed.
This happened even as Choudhary Lal Singh, the Forest Minister in the J&K government who has been accused of harassing Gujjars. In December 20, 2017 Gujjars had demanded Singh’s sacking for ‘allegedly harassing them in connection with removal of encroachments’.
Choudhary Lal Singh, was one of the two ministers who resigned from Mufti’s cabinet. According to a report in News 18, he went to the extent of threatening with a repeat of the 1947 massacre of Muslim by army of Dogra ruler Hari Singh.
When cornered, Singh denied making the threat and said he’d quit if the complainants repeated the charge in front of him. He was also a Health Minister in the past and had been accused of mentally harassing a female doctor.
In fact, it was the other BJP minister Chander Parkash Ganga who had asked for Gujjar families to be ‘evicted from Samba for work to start on AIIMS’.
Another round of WhatsApp claims from a popular social media post:
Claim 1: First post-mortem report mentions only murder and not the rape of the minor
Fact: There was only one post-mortem report.
There’s no evidence to suggest that there were two post-mortems carried out. Only one post-mortem was carried out which clearly stated that the victim was raped. It read: “Besides, post mortem report of dead body was also obtained. On the strength of opinion furnished by the experts it has been confirmed that hymen of the deceased was not found intact and lacerations on vulva of the vagina were also observed, besides blood stained discharge was found inside vagina of the deceased.”
Claim 2: It is impossible to hold someone captive and rape for 8 days in a temple which is always crowded and is situated in the middle of the street.
Fact: Victim was held in temple, which was in a secluded spot
The victim was held in the temple for six days and murdered on the seventh. The temple isn’t in the middle of street but a secluded area. The victim was heavily drugged using sedatives.
The charge-sheet notes: “Later on, they took the girl and kept her inside Devisthan under the table over two Chatayees (plastic mats) and then covered her with two Darees (cotton thread Mats).”
Her body was removed and thrown in the jungle.
The charge sheet adds: “The investigation conducted further revealed that on 15th January 2018 accused Sanji Ram told JCL and his son accused Vishal Jangotra that Kishore had refused to bring the car hence they cannot throw the dead body in the canal and accordingly directed them to throw the dead body in the jungle as it was not safe to keep it inside Devisthan anymore as the people were likely to visit Devisthan on the following day for Fanda which was to be performed by accused Sanji Ram himself.”
Claim 3: The girl’s body had mud deposits which did not belong to the area which suggests that she was murdered somewhere else and her body was thrown in the temple premises.
Fact: She was dumped in the jungle not the temple. Mud stains didn’t match area where body was found. Mud stain discrepancy helped nail erroneous investigation.
When the case was handed over to the SIT, they discovered pictures which showed that she had mud deposits on her body.
A police official told Asia Times: “The first picture revealed mud stains on her clothes, but the mud didn’t match with the spot where the body was found lying. So, it was obvious that she was killed elsewhere and we had to figure out where this mud came from.”
Other pictures had no mud stains which showed an effort to destroy evidence. Thus, the mud deposits suggest she was murdered elsewhere, but she wasn’t found in the temple, her body was found in the jungle.
Claim 4: When villagers raised concern over Rohingyas being settled in the area, Mufti govt got rattled
Fact: Mufti has stated that Rohingyas reside in state
Mehbooba Mufti had said in the state assembly on January 22, that 5700 Rohingyas currently reside in the state and there have no instances of any of them being radicalised. Why she would be ‘rattled’ by Rohingyas is hard to answer given her admission in the assembly.
laim 5: Mufti sends officer Irfan Wani to create a new case, who was previously accused of raping a girl and murdering her brother in police custody
Claim 6: After Irfan Wani got involved, new report was created and ‘rape’ was inserted without any forensic evidence and locals were tortured in the name of investigation.
Fact: Irfan Wani didn’t head probe, he was acquitted of rape and torture charges.
Accusations that SIT-in-charge was rape-accused is being economic with the truth. The SIT functioned under the supervision of IGPs of Crime Aloke Puri and Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba, and SSP Crime Branch Jammu Ramesh Kumar Jalla.
It also had Additional SP Naveed Pirzada, Deputy SP Shwetambri Sharma, Sub Inspector Irfan Wani, Inspector KK Gupta and Assistant Sub Inspector Tariq Ahmad. The only who has been accused of rape was sub-inspector Irfan Wani who was acquitted.
Speaking about his involvement, SSP Ramesh Kumar Jalla told The Quint that he wasn’t aware of the allegations against Wani and got to know that he was accused of raping a girl and killing a young boy.
He said: “He was acquitted in both cases around 2014. If the man is acquitted by the judiciary of the country, there is no sense to not include him as part of my team. I had an excellent team that did a good job of delivering a charge-sheet.”
Claim 7: To protect the real culprits, innocents were framed including the officials from Jammu Police.
Fact: Charge-sheet mentions in detail how police personnel were involved
The SIT’s charge-sheet has detailed information of the crimes committed by the accused which are backed by witnesses.
Final Claim: Sanji Ram’s son Vishal was in Meerut giving exams, couldn’t have been in Kathua to rape victim
His mother had claimed that his exam attendance showed that he was in Meerut. However, the charge-sheet states they believe that he might have a used a proxy to give his exam.
A report in The Print states that Vishal and three of his friends never appeared for the exam conducted at a centre in Muzaffarnagar, UP and CCTV footage gathered by the crime branch shows the four were absent when the exam was held. Proxy candidates reportedly gave the exam in their stead.
Hopefully, the aforementioned will clear up doubts being created on social media by individuals with malicious intentions.
Let us not therefore fall for the deceitful ones, who seek to divide society with their lies. We are better than that.