Right-wing website OpIndia published an article on June 13, accusing Alt News of fabricating SSP Akash Kulhary’s statements in a June 6 report on the Aligarh murder case.

Alt News’s article was based on statements posted by the Aligarh police on its official Twitter account and those given to Alt News by the SSP himself. The preliminary autopsy report ruled out rape of the 2.5-year-old child and the case is being further probed by forensic teams to ascertain the full nature of the crime.

Alt News’s article was published before the child’s post mortem report was made public. The fact-check was based on the details that came out in the report, revealed to us by SSP Kulhary. The officer had declined our requests for a copy of the same which he stated was only meant for the victim’s family.

In his initial statements, the SSP informed that according to the PM report, the child’s death was by caused by strangulation. When asked if social media claims suggesting that the child was raped are true, his immediate response was, “No, it’s wrong.” He further stated that online rumours propagating that her eyes were gouged out, her right arm was amputated and that acid was poured on her body were untrue. These details were voluntarily provided by the SSP without our probing for the same. OpIndia accused Alt News of fabricating the SSP’s statements. An audio recording of our conversation with IPS officer Kulhary can be heard below.

An audio clip of OpIndia’s conversation with the SSP was used by the website to suggest that Alt News manufactured his statements. Here, the SSP can be heard claiming that he did not give the before-mentioned statements to Alt News. However, as evident from our conversation with him, the officer voluntarily provided most of the information.

In a subsequent conversation with Alt News, the SSP made a slight alteration to his earlier statement, now informing that the minor’s arm was indeed amputated. However, he did not share the cause of the amputation. Our article was updated accordingly.

The child’s murder has witnessed an outpour of national rage, and rightly so. However, amidst citizens’ demands for a speedy trial, the case has been picked by malevolent elements on social media attempting to paint a communal picture despite the investigation still underway. Tensions gripped Aligarh after the brutal crime and any misinformation surrounding the issue only adds fuel to the fire. Alt News’s fact-check was an attempt to curb the dissemination of misleading information that has the potential to exacerbate the animosity. The police had charged at least 13 persons over inflammatory social media posts about the murder. In a situation as delicate as this, any untrue rumour can prove to be fatal.

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