A photograph of policemen standing behind a group of people which includes both men and women is floating on social media with the claim that cops in Madhya Pradesh have arrested a child-lifters gang of Rohingya Muslims who kidnap children aged between 17 and 18. The message warns that 500-2000 such people are on a prowl to lift children from outside schools. The message ends with the valediction “City Superintendent of Police, Bhopal” giving the impression that it’s a warning issued by Bhopal police. A Facebook user posted the photograph with an identical claim.

सावधान मध्यप्रदेश में 500से 2000 लोगों की अलग अलग रोहिग्या मुस्लिमो की टोली आई है उनके साथ महिलाएं और उनके पास हथियार भी है और वो 17 या 18 साल तक के लड़कों को पकड़ के ले जाते है स्कूल के आस पास से .. इसको आप सारे ग्रुप में शेयर करें। भोपाल पुलिस C.S.P.Send to all group plz (Attention! There is a team of 500 to 2000 Rohingya Muslims including women that have come to Madhya Pradesh. They are also carrying weapons. They kidnap children aged between 17 and 18 from areas near their schools. Share this to all groups. Bhopal police City Superintendent of Police -translated)” – is the full text of the message.

One Reetesh Namdeo posted the same picture with another claim that MP police has arrested 25 people from Jawahar Nagar area of Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam city. It has been shared close to 1,200 times on Facebook.

भाईयो mp के रतलाम जिले के जावरा शहर से बच्चे पकङने वाले 25 आदमियो कि गेंग को पकङा गया है
आपके फोन मे जितने भी सम्पर्क…

Posted by Reetesh Namdeo on Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Several other individuals have shared this image on Facebook and Twitter with a similar narrative.

Sex-racket gang NOT child-kidnappers

On zooming the image, Alt News found that the name of the police station is visible in the background. It reads, “नगर पुलिस अधीक्षक जावरा जिला – रतलाम (City Superintendent of Police Jaora District Ratlam -translated)”.

Alt News contacted Ratlam SP’s office to verify the authenticity of the image and the claim. We were put in touch with Ratlam police’s cyber cell. Speaking to a member of the cyber cell team over a WhatsApp conversation, we were sent a screenshot of a news report which carried the same image.

“देह व्यापार में संलिप्त 9 युवतियों सहित 15 युवक धराए (Nine young women along with 15 young men involved in sex racket nabbed -translated)”, reads the headline of the article published by Patrika on July 15, 2019. According to the report, police took action against a redlight area located on Lebad-Nayagoan four-lane road.

A photograph related to the arrest of a sex racket gang was falsely shared as that of a group of child-abductors arrested in Madhya Pradesh. Recently, a video of a mentally-challenged man hounded by locals in MP on false accusations of child-lifting was shared on social media to fuel child-kidnapping rumours. A similar rumour about a gang of Rohingya Muslims on prowl attacking people at midnight had gone viral in July 2018.

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.