A number of baseless, false and fabricated conspiracy theories surrounding the gruesome rape and murder of the eight-year-old from Kathua, are making rounds on social media platforms. Misleading messages are being circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp, with an aim to divert attention from the heinous nature of the crime. Right-leaning TV channel Zee News and social media page Shankh Naad– platforms watched or followed by millions, are leaving no stone unturned to propagate false information about the case.
On April 16, Zee News anchor Sudhir Choudhary dismissed the claim in the chargesheet that the victim was held captive in a temple in Rasana for four days. He asked, “How is it possible that a temple having four windows and three doors and with hundreds of people coming to pray every day can keep a little girl captive?”
However, Newsclick‘s visit to the crime spot in Kathua suggests that reporters from this channel have not visited the place. For the reportage of the case, a Newsclick team had stayed in Jammu for a week from April 2. They paid a visit to the temple and the place, where the body of the minor Bakarwal girl was found, after meeting her parents and others in the know. The team saw that the temple doesn’t have any window, except for a ventilator close to the rooftop. There is no house in the 50 metre radius of the temple, which is not frequented by people. The one-room-temple stands isolated, and is located in the middle of the forest.
Surprisingly, elaborate and well-organised campaigns have been running on various social media platforms, to create suspicion in the minds of the common people. Here are a few instances of the propaganda campaign run by news websites, Facebook pages, news channels and individuals.
“First post-mortem report mentions only murder and not the rape of Asifa.”
The chargesheet accessed by Newsclick does not mention more than one post-mortem procedures conducted on the dead body. The autopsy was carried out by a team of doctors from the District Hospital, Kathua at 2:30 pm on January 17. According to chargesheet, it was found that the victim was prima-facie raped before being killed. The probe has also confirmed that the victim was gang raped.
“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.”
The second allegation is also completely baseless. There is no mention of mud in the investigation submitted by the police. However, they have mentioned clay in their investigation. “The investigation has established, on the strength of evidence both oral and scientific, that the accused SI Dutta and Tilak Raj have in furtherance of criminal conspiracy hatched between themselves and the principal accused Sanji Ram washed the clothes worn by the deceased at the time of her death with the intention to remove the clay and blood stains/sprems and thereafter, forwarded the same to FSL for expert opinion,” says the chargesheet.
The allegation that Rohingyas are involved in the rape and murder of the minor girl is the part of the larger conspiracy to evict Rohingyas from the Jammu region.