On September 19, Alt News received a series of videos on our WhatsApp tip line (+91 7600011160) clubbed together as an incident of child kidnapping in Delhi. The tipper, who was most likely aware of our work on child-kidnapping-related rumours, shared these videos with the accompanying message that these rumours were again gaining momentum.
Clip 1: Woman in burkha allegedly kidnaps a child and escapes in an auto
In the first clip, we can see a woman in a burka approach a child begging. As the child hands over something, she manages to drug him and then the child loses consciousness. Immediately after this, a man arrives in an auto-rickshaw at the scene and they put the child in the vehicle and make off.
This clip has been viral on Indian social media since July 2022 and has been debunked by Alt News on multiple occasions. It is a staged video from Egypt created by a group of men who had planned to earn money through social media views. The full fact-check can be read here.
Clip 2: A woman travelling in a bus with a child is confronted by police and bystanders
In this clip, we see a woman seated on a bus, who is confronted by a police officer carrying a baby. The officer says that he will shoot her if he finds out that the child does not belong to her. He asks her twice about whose child she stole, to which she replies that she does not know and they can take the child away. She also suggests that they should go to the hospital and get a DNA test done.
Clip 3: Continuation of the confrontation
In the third clip, we find the camera person saying that the woman was allegedly caught stealing a child near Bawana nehar (canal). They also show the face of the child that has been allegedly kidnapped.
The above clip of the woman allegedly caught stealing a child is viral on both Twitter and Facebook. User @TheRitamApp tweeted that in Delhi’s Bawana, a burqa-clad woman was discovered to be a child kidnapper. DTC bus staff caught a woman in a burqa with a stolen child.
दिल्ली के बवाना में बुर्काधारी महिला निकली बच्चा चोर
DTC बस स्टाफ ने पकड़ी बुर्काधारी महिला, चोरी किए हुए बच्चे के साथ दबोची pic.twitter.com/ySTKPvVPIG
— TheRitamApp | द ऋतम् एप (@TheRitamApp) September 15, 2022
The same clip is viral on Facebook as well with over 29k views.
Alt News started with verification of the location. Using all the clues from the clip we found the video to be from Main Bus Stand, Bawana Stop, Bawana Village, Bawana, Delhi. A street view of the location is also available on Google Maps, readers can access the visuals by clicking on this link.
Freelance journalist Vipul Kumar visited the location and spoke with some of the locals who were there or were aware of the viral clip. To preserve the identity of the witnesses, Alt News will refer to the witnesses only by their profession and not by their names.
We first spoke with a shop owner who told us that the woman could not be a child kidnapper. The shop owner was not there when the viral clip was shot but he had seen her earlier that day when she was sitting in front of his shop and breastfeeding the baby and changing its diaper. When the clip went viral, his first intuition was how could she be a child kidnapper if she was nurturing the child so delicately? The shop owner also had CCTV footage of the woman but it got deleted as the feed gets wiped off every six days. The incident happened on September 14.
“I am not aware of what transpired that day but I had seen the policemen take her somewhere. She was on the bus and the DTC staff called the police because she appeared suspicious,” said the vendor.
“Those claims are fake. I was there that day when the incident occurred, she was seated on the bus and she had held the baby in a way that appeared suspicious to the DTC staff. They immediately called the police because of her appearance.” He further added, “She was mentally unstable, she was saying that you can take the child away and her face was also half burnt. The police took her with them and what I have heard from others is that she was later released after her family members came to the station with proof of her identity.”
None of the eyewitnesses agreed to speak on camera due to the nature of the incident.
SHO Rakesh Yadav of Bawana Police Station told Alt News that the news of the woman being a child kidnapper is “fake”. Vipul Kumar also paid a visit to the police station where the same information was confirmed by a different officer.
Alt News could not independently verify the identity of the woman, or if any disciplinary action was taken against the officer who had threatened to shoot the alleged suspect.
Based on the words of the locals and the police, it is safe to conclude that a woman who is most likely mentally unstable was assumed to be a child kidnapper, and the viral clips do not narrate the full story.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people contribute towards the same. Please consider donating in support of this endeavour to fight misinformation and disinformation.
To make an instant donation, click on the "Donate Now" button above. For information regarding donation via Bank Transfer/Cheque/DD, click here.