Images shared to claim mob justice stopped rape incidents in Nagaland – Fact-check

After the gruesome gang-rape and murder in Hyderabad where a young veterinarian was burnt to death, actor-turned-parliamentarian Jaya Bachchan suggested that culprits accused of such crimes should be “brought out in public and lynched”. Amidst the hue and cry across the country, certain images of mob justice are being shared on social media to claim efficiency in deterring crimes against women.

Photographs depicting lynch-mob justice

An image of a man stripped and tied to a pole while a mob attempts to burn him alive is garnering multiple shares on social media. It is being claimed that Syed Farid Khan, accused of raping a Naga girl in 2015, was paraded, beaten and burnt alive by a mob of 10,000 that dragged him out of the jail. The claim also asserts that no rape has taken place in the state since the incident. “यह तस्वीर सैयद फरीद खान की है जिसने 2015 में एक नागा लड़की से बलात्कार किया था जिसे दीमापुर सेंट्रल जेल में बंद किया गया था. बाद में तक़रीबन दस हज़ार की भीड़ ने उसे जेल से निकाल कर सड़कों पर नंगा घुमाया, मरम्मत, जलाया और फिर उसे चौराहे पे टांग दिया.* *रिकॉर्ड उठाकर देख लीजिए तब से नागालैंड में आजतक बलात्कार की एक भी घटना नहीं हुई”, reads the claim. Alt News has received a fact-check request of the same on its official Andriod app.

Facebook user Jitendra Tiwari also posted the same image with the message, “💡मोमबत्ती,मशाल जलाना छोड़ो, अब सीधे 😷बलात्कारी को 🤺जिन्दा 🔥जलाओ (Stop lighting candles and torches, now directly burn rapist the alive -translated)” The post that calls for violence and mob justice has garnered more than 1,500 shares.

One Deepak Chouhan shared a different image with the same claim that Syed Farid Khan was publically executed in Nagaland for raping a girl. This post has garnered close to 5,300 shares so far.

Fact-check

In the course of this article, we will fact-check the following claims:

  1. An image of a rape-accused lynched in Nagaland in 2015.
  2. Another image shared with the same claim
  3. The claim that no incident of rape was reported in Nagaland since the lynching.

Image 1: Ecuador

Using Google reverse image search, Alt News found that the first image of the man whose feet are engulfed in fire is not from Nagaland. It’s an image of a man named Marco Quispe Jácome accused of robbery being burnt alive by villagers of Pelileo Grande in Ecuador. Hearing the shouts of Quispe, parish priest Fabricio Dávila along with the two other locals came to his rescue and doused the fire with a sack and dirt, according to a report by Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo published on October 11, 2006. The accused was later handed over to the police and taken to a hospital where it was found that he suffered second-degree burns.

“The subject was apprehended by a group of residents who were guarding the parish, who found him with a bag with keys, screwdrivers, ropes, razor and other items that, according to the inhabitants of the area, he allegedly used to commit his robberies. The detainee said it was the first time he tried to steal because he was alone and he did it because he had to support his mother and that the job as a radio technician was not enough. (-Google translated)”, reported the news outlet.

We also found an Associated Press photo which reiterated in the caption, “Mario Quishpe shouts as villagers burn his legs after allegedly being caught stealing in Pelileo Grande, Ecuador, some 75 miles south of Quito, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006”. 

Source: AP Images

Image 2: Nagaland

A Google reverse image search of the image shared by one Deepak Chouhan revealed that it depicts a real incident from India’s northeastern state of Nagaland. Syed Sharif Uddin Khan, a 35-year-old small-time trader, was accused of a raping a 20-year-old student of a local women’s college on February 24, 2015. He was dragged out of the Dimapur Central Jail and lynched by an angry mob on March 5, 2015, according to an initial report by The Indian Express. The police had said that the mob overpowered the jail security, tied up the man and dragged him seven kilometres while thrashing him along the way. The man was believed to be an illegal Bangladeshi infiltrator, said the report. However, the outlet later reported that Khan came from a family of army men. Two of his brothers were serving in the army while one had died on duty.

“Protesters take picture from the mobile after he was dragged out of the Jail and lynched him on the highway in Dimapur, India north eastern state of Nagaland on Thursday, March 05, 2015. Protesters stormed the jail and dragged the accused and lynched him on National Highway. Police resorted to blank firing and fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob injuring scores of protesters and killing a student,” reads the caption given to a Getty Images photo shot by independent photojournalist Caisii Mao.

Source: Getty Images

However, according to a Nagaland government report submitted a few days after Khan was lynched in March 2015, the accused had said to the police that he had paid the women after “consensual sex” twice. On March 12, The Indian Express reported, “When contacted, Wabang Jamir, IGP (Range), Nagaland, said that investigators were not aware of the government report and were still treating the case as one of rape.” 

Alt News was unable to locate any other follow-up reports on the investigation. The then Chief Minister of Nagaland T.R. Zeliang was quoted on March 12, 2015, by The Telegraph stating that the investigation into the incident was not complete thus it could not be concluded whether the crime was rape or not. He said that the court will decide the matter while adding that media reports about the government report stating that there was “no rape” were false. In September 2015, Guwahati high court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the killing of the rape accused. After missing the deadline for the completion of the investigation, CBI filed an application asking for more time to submit the final report. On June 21, 2016, the high court granted six more months.

“According to the high court direction, the CBI registered four cases in connection with the lynching and started its investigation after collecting the case records from Nagaland police on December 10 last year. The CBI officials have inspected the crime scenes, collected electronic evidence, examined more than 40 witnesses and interrogated 29 accused persons”, stated an article in The Telegraph on June 22.

Source: The Telegraph

False claim: “No rape incident since the lynching in Nagaland”

The viral rumour also claims that no incident of rape was reported in the state after the lynching of Syed Sharif Uddin Khan in 2015 but, this is false. In May 2018, NDTV reported that a 12-year-old tribal girl was allegedly raped by a non-tribal salesman in a remote village located near the Myanmar border in Mon district of Nagaland. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the number of rape incidents in Nagaland in the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 were 35, 26, and 10 respectively.

In conclusion, an unrelated image of a mob attempting to immolate a robbery-accused in Ecuador was shared as a rape-accused being served justice by a lynch-mob in Nagaland. While the second image is related to this incident, the claim that the man was a rapist was not substantiated. Furthermore, it is untrue that no incidents of rape have been reported in the state since the 2015 lynching.

It is noteworthy that mob justice has become a talking point since the Hyderabad rape case after parliamentarians called for the culprits to be surrendered to the public and lynched. An attempt at public extrajudicial punishment was in fact made on November 30 when locals hurled slippers on the policemen who stopped them from entering the Shadnagar police station where the Hyderabad rape-accused are held. Lawmakers encouraging citizens to take the law in their own hands, coupled with social media posts promoting that mob justice deters heinous crimes, can prove to set a dangerous precedent in the public mind.

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