How Fake News Is Attempting To Derail Kathua Rape Probe

The Jammu and Kashmir police finally issued a statement confirming the rape of the 8-year-old in Kathua.

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How Fake News Is Attempting To Derail Kathua Rape Probe

Official records of the Kathua case contradict claims that the 8-year old was not raped.

Twelve days after the chargesheet on the Kathua rape and murder case, the Jammu and Kashmir police had to issue a statement, highlighting that the 8-year-old child was indeed raped. The step was taken to clamp down on a viral wave of fake news on social media and some sections of mainstream media that argued there was no rape. A fact-check of official records of the case clearly shows that sexual assault did take place.

At the core of the backlash is a report published on the front page of leading Hindi daily Dainik Jagran on April 20, which claimed that the child was not raped and the postmortem report only talks of injuries. The story was amplified on social media platforms, either right-wing or associated with ruling party BJP.

"I Support Narendra Modi" - a Facebook page which has almost 15 million followers, posted it with the claim that "the whole conspiracy to defame Hindus is exposed". The post was shared over 34,000 times. The page is run by a man called Vikas Pandey, who claims to be a BJP volunteer on Twitter.

The Jammu and Kashmir police finally issued a statement saying, "...it is to place on record that on the strength of opinion furnished by medical experts, it has been confirmed that the rape victim was found subjected to sexual assault by the accused."

Official records of the case contradict the claims that there was no rape.

The postmortem report by the Kathua district hospital on January 17 had details of the brutality of the assault -- blood and lacerations on private parts, hymen not intact. On March 8, the doctors wrote to the police to say the "injuries mentioned could be because of any form of sexual assault".

Contrary to claims made by Dainik Jagran that there were two postmortem reports, doctors in Jammu told NDTV that there was only one report in the case.

Another document used to debunk the rape theory is a report dated January 30 by the Forensic Science Laboratory of Srinagar, which cited the absence of sperm in forensic samples. Experts said cases like this, where the body was found 72 hours later, sperm traces may not be present. Forensic expert BN Mishra said, "Spermatozoa die in 24-36 hours. Its presence or absence does not rule out sexual assault."

When NDTV contacted Dainik Jagran, they said they stand by the story but refused to provide clarifications regarding the two postmortem reports.

A report by the Forensic Science Laboratory in Delhi in February mentioned hair strands found from the site of crime matched that of the accused and the child, and they are going to be used as supporting evidence.

But as of now, viral posts about the rape not taking place will only end up hampering investigation and create an atmosphere of disharmony.

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