On June 15, several media outlets reported that Sakshi Misra, the daughter of BJP MLA Rajesh Misra, and her husband Ajitesh Kumar were kidnapped outside the Allahabad High Court. This came at the backdrop of the couple recently posting video messages where they alleged threat to life from Sakshi’s father because they had entered into an inter-community marriage – Sakshi belongs to the Brahmin community while Ajitesh hails from the Dalit community. The duo had also asked for police protection in another video message, claiming that Rajesh Misra disapproved of the marriage.

Mainstream media outlets like Hindustan Times, The Times of India, One India, News X and Dubai-based Gulf News, published articles based on a syndicated-feed by Indo Asian News Service (IANS) claiming that Sakshi and Ajitesh were kidnapped outside the Allahabad HC.

A few hours later, the above-mentioned news organisations updated their stories which now talked of a different couple that was kidnapped outside the court. However, only India Today had clarified about the misreporting.

Free Press Journal had also claimed that Sakshi and Ajitesh were kidnapped and the publication is yet to update its article. The current version says, “In a sensational turn of events, the couple from Bareilly, who have been making headlines since last week claiming to be under threat from a BJP MLA over their inter-caste marriage, was on Monday kidnapped at gunpoint by armed men from outside the Allahabad High Court, where they had gone to seek protection.”

A tale of two different stories

The couple who was kidnapped was not Sakshi Misra and her husband. A Muslim couple who hails from Amroha district was kidnapped outside the Allahabad High Court and was later rescued by the police. The duo is now in police custody.

According to the police, the car used to take them hostage was seized under the jurisdiction of Kalyanpur police station in Fatehpur district. Prayagraj police rubbished the claims about the abduction of Sakshi and Ajitesh terming them baseless. “Rumours and false news are being shared on social media that Sakshi and Ajitesh were kidnapped. But this is baseless. Sakshi and Ajitesh are completely safe inside the court’s premises with police protection. The couple who was kidnapped is also in the custody of Fatehpur police,” reads the English translation of Prayagraj police’s July 15 tweet.

In a statement given to Firstpost, Fatehpur SP Ramesh said, “After verification, we got to know that this Muslim couple went to the Allahabad High Court today (Monday) from where they were abducted by the father and the uncles of the girl. The couple, who hailed from Amroha district, was rescued by the police. Prayagraj police, along with the Amroha police, will look into the matter”.

According to India Today‘s updated report, Sakshi and Ajitesh were in the high court seeking police protection at the time of the kidnapping, which led to the confusion. “The incident took place at 8.30 am outside the Allahabad High Court. The timing of the incident led to confusion. Around the same time, Sakshi Misra, the daughter of the BJP MLA Rajesh Misra, and her husband Ajitesh Kumar were at the Allahabad High Court seeking protection.”, said the report.

India Today later added a clarification saying, “News agency IANS reported that the couple kidnapped from outside the court were Sakshi and her husband Ajitesh. However, India Today later found out that Sakshi and Ajitesh were safe and attended the court proceedings”.

A misreport by IANS was republished by several media outlets without fact-checking. The false news dominated mainstream media and social media for the better part of July 15 thus, misleading numerous readers.

About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.