Last month, a CCTV clip of a man abducting a child from Mathura Railway Station went viral on social media. Police later found the child from a BJP councilor’s home. The incident has since sparked yet another cycle of child abduction rumours which are being circulated on various social media platforms, especially WhatsApp. In 2019, similar rumours had wreaked havoc in some parts of the country. Alt News has worked tirelessly to uncover the truth behind these rumours.

Over the last few weeks, there have been multiple incidents of mob attacks on so-called suspicious individuals in several parts of the country. For some time, a viral claim about child snatchers-cum-organ traders wandering in the guise of sadhus has been making the rounds. While investigating one of these, Alt News recently found that a few sadhus getting beaten up on the suspicion of being child-lifters had committed some petty theft in Madhya Pradesh.

Of late, various media outlets have reported incidents where people have been beaten up based on these rumours. In Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur, a woman was thrashed over rumours of child theft. Taking cognizance of these incidents, police have issued a number of statements. The Sitapur Police put out a statement quashing the rumours. Moradabad Police, Bareilly Police, and Hardoi Police have also issued statements calling these rumours baseless.

Very recently, a 2-minute video gained traction on social media. It showed the logo of ‘The Live TV News’. In the footage, a group of sadhus are seen sitting on the ground with the police surrounding them. The voice-over running in the background claims that 28 sadhus from Beerapatti village of Banaras were caught red handed while killing children to steal their kidneys. Twitter handle ‘@MrKhan1A’ made the claim while tweeting this video. The post garnered more than 3,500 retweets at the time of the writing of this article. (Archived link)

Twitter handle ‘@ikramAli33’ also promoted the video with the same claim. (Archived link)

Twitter user Dr. Mohd. Shakir Khan tweeted another video along with the viral clip. It features the bodies of some children who are seen lying on the ground with people crying around them. Alt News is not including this video in the article due to its sensitive nature. (Archived link)

Alt News found that the video is widespread with the same claim on Twitter and Facebook.

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A video of the same incident recorded from a different angle was also uploaded on YouTube.

Fact-check

Alt News first examined the YouTube channel of ‘The Live TV News’, but discovered that the video had been deleted.

Next, we took a look at the comments made on the viral tweets. Responding to the viral tweets, Varanasi Rural Police shared a video of a statement by its SP. In the clip, the superintendent of police refutes the viral claim saying that the rumours of child-lifters being caught are completely false. He added that nothing suspicious was uncovered during the interrogation of people begging for alms in the guise of a sage.

The Varanasi (Rural) Social Media Cell also issued a written statement on the matter. According to the statement, on September 1, people were suspicious of the sadhus begging for alms in the Indrawar village of Baragaon. The sadhus were then brought to the police station and interrogated. But after the investigation, there was no evidence of any criminal activity, the statement adds.

Further, Alt News also reached out to SP Varanasi (Rural) SK Tripathi. He confirmed that this claim was false. The news of the arrest of 28 sadhus is completely false. Only four or five sadhus were asking for alms, and when the villagers suspected them, they were brought in for questioning, he said.

The Alt News team is investigating another video shared with the same claim. We will update this article if we come across any information on the video featuring the corpses of children.

Alt News requests its readers not to pay heed to such rumours. Please do not take any action without knowing the truth of such claims shared on social media. If you notice any suspicious individual, inform the police.

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