On January 16, a Hindi-language website called Humlog published an article that claimed Bajrang Dal apprehended Aatif, a Muslim man, who attempted to abduct a married Jain woman.

This post has been shared on/by several high network Facebook pages/groups such as — RSS राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ✅ [over 2 lakh followers]; Cm Yogi Adityanath [over 1.5 lakh followers]; पूछता है भारत ®️ ☑ [over 4 lakh followers]; SONU SOOD (Actor)The KingStar◎▼◎ [over 2 lakh followers]; Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi Fan Club [over 2 lakh followers]; Shifuji [over 4 lakh followers].

Humlog’s article includes a bite given by a Bajrang Dal member to regional media outlet Lokmanch Today. He said, “After being tipped off, Bajrang Dal reached the railway station. We apprehended the man and the woman from bogie number B1 (13, 14) on the train going to Jaipur from Ajmer, and took them to Government Railway Police Force (GRPF) station. The 30-year-old man is from Mhow, he is married and has a child.”

Hindi news outlets Amar Ujala and Dainik Bhaskar also published similar reports. While Amar Ujala said that a young woman was travelling with a Muslim man, both of whom were married, Dainik Bhaskar reported that Aatif was taking a Hindu woman to Ajmer to get married to her. As per both reports, the man and woman hailed from Mhow.

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Twitter user @Saffron_Smoke posted a longer video of the controversy in which we see a Bajrang Dal member assaulting the Muslim man in question inside the train compartment. The video also shows the man and the woman being escorted to a GRPF station on the railway platform. Subsequently, the bite that the Bajrang Dal member gave to Lokmanch Today is played. This video has gained over 50,000 views.

Co-founder of DoPolitics and former OpIndia Hindi editor Ajeet Bharti shared this video and taunted Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair to fact-check this video. His tweet gained over 1,500 retweets.

False communal spin added to justify moral policing

Alt News spoke with the GRP inspector of Ujjain, RS Mahajan. He said, “This incident took place on January 14. There is no ‘love jihad’ angle to the incident. Both the man and woman are married [not to each other]. They were travelling from Indore to Jaipur. Both of them are friends and their families are acquainted. They were released shortly after the commotion.” Mahajan added, “No case was registered by the victims.”

We also spoke with Nivedita Gupta, Superintendent of Police for GRP. She confirmed that the incident was not related to ‘love jihad’ and refrained from sharing any details related to the victims in order to protect their privacy.

We performed a keyword search on YouTube and found a report by Live Hindustan. At the 1:20 mark, the woman can be heard saying inside the police station, “Do you understand that your misunderstanding has spoiled my entire life? You are making videos and taking pictures… you should have asked us. I’m an adult… I know what’s right and wrong. Professionally, I’m a teacher, I teach high school students.” The Bajrang Dal member responds to her by saying, “I am not even talking to you. Do I have anything to do with you?” thus completely disregarding an adult woman herself clarifying that she wasn’t coerced.

With the help of MP-based reporters, Alt News was able to identify the Bajrang Dal member who assaulted the Muslim man. His name is Pintu Kaushal (man in the middle in the image below).

Bajrang Dal members, therefore, apprehended two friends travelling in a train and accused the man of committing ‘love jihad’. Not only have the police clarified that the incident does not have any communal angle, the woman herself can be heard saying, “I am an adult and I know what is right and wrong”.

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About the Author

He joined as an intern in 2019. Until June 2022, his work primarily focused on fact-checking. Now his primary responsibilities include catalysing all aspects of organisational growth — from fundraising to development of new projects at Alt News. He attended the Asian College of Journalism (2015-16) and The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (2012-2015). In past, he worked at The Hindu and Zee Media's WION.
Tipline Bling: archit@altnews.in