Claim: A flurry of videos and posts doing the rounds on every social media platforms claim that the Kathua victim was not raped, but only murdered. This assertion also made it to the front pages of the well-known Hindi daily newspaper, 'Dainik Jagran'. Following its publication, this article was then shared extensively across social media.
Source: Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Newspapers, and Twitter.
What Happened: After the nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of an 8-year-old child in Jammu and Kashmir, a narrative started circulating on social media that the victim had not been sexually assaulted, and was instead only murdered. Soon after, news articles published in the Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran stated that the Kathua Victim was not raped. It bases these allegations on victim autopsy reports that claim only the hymen of the victim was broken, which, according to the newspaper, could be due to any physical activity and in and of itself is not evidence of rape.
Screenshots or camera captured images of the sensational news article started doing the rounds on social media and WhatsApp groups after it was published.
These pictures were posted on Facebook and Twitter. Some of these posts got thousands of shares and likes.
Dainik Jagran had deleted the story from their web-portal initially, but have once again published it.
The news article concluded that there were two different autopsy reports and none of them mention rape.
There has also been a recent increase of self proclaimed 'citizen' journalists who 'reported from the field' that these claims were true and 'proved' the lack of sexual assault in the Kathua case. This so-called 'reportage' is available on YouTube, and have been shared extensively in WhatsApp groups especially.
Facts: The claim that the Kathua victim was not raped is completely false and has been concocted using misleading facts. The Jammu and Kashmir police department has gone on record to state that evidence has confirmed "that the victim was found subjected to sexual assault by the accused."
According to media reports, some of the forensic samples from the crime scene were tampered with, but recent developments have led the police to arrest the accused and build a case of rape and murder.
Conclusion: It is clear that a particular false narrative was created using partial and misleading facts to corroborate a story that served a singular purpose, the further communalization of an already polarising event. These claims were already circulating on social media especially in right-wing, pro BJP Hindutva groups and had been debunked by Metafact. But it is disconcerting to see that these claims actually made it to the front pages of a well known national daily. With 'Dainik Jagran' choosing to publish a false and completely misleading report, their reputation for journalistic integrity and credibility has been severely compromised.
With a case that caused nationwide outrage, a host of false claims and posts have started circulating on social media over the past week or so. Some of these claims have also been previously identified and debunked by Metafact as well. These false claims and spurious allegations serve no other purpose apart from seeking to misdirect people into forming a communalized opinion of the facts of the case, which the J&K police have repeatedly clarified.
(This story is in collaboration with MetaFact)