A young man from Uttar Pradesh’s Jewar (Gautam Buddha Nagar district) turned up in New Delhi on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary, January 30. He pulled out a gun amid a crowd of students from Jamia Milia Islamia agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and injured a protester. Soon after, news agency ANI shared a copy of the shooter’s Grade 10 CBSE mark sheet, according to which his date of birth is April 2002. This suggested that he is a minor.
Subsequent to ANI’s tweet, a counter-claim began floating on social media via a screenshot of a person’s voter information taken from the website of the Election Commission of India (ECI). The name on the screenshot matches the shooter’s name. The state (Uttar Pradesh) and the constituency (Jewar) also match with his residence. The document states his father’s name as ‘Deepchand Sharma’.
Among the ones who shared the screenshot was one Dr Azim Khan who wrote that this serves as ‘proof’ that the shooter is an adult.
Academic Ashok Swain also claimed that the accused is an adult based on the screenshots.
However, he later took down his tweet.
On January 3. Firstpost published a report titled, “Jamia shooter’s age row: CBSE certificate shows him as ‘minor’, EC document shows he’s registered voter since April 2019.” The report states, “While several media reports after the 30 January incident confirmed that Sharma was a “minor”, new details based on details fished out of the Election Commission website show that the shooter is not a minor after all. However, verification of these details are still underway.”
Several users have also shared a screenshot of voter details from the website electoralsearch.in.
On January 30, TV9 Bharatvarsh published a report on the shooter’s age where the media outlet attached a photocopy of his Aadhaar card. His date of birth on the card – April 8, 2002 – matches with the one stated on the CBSE mark sheet (which has also been included in TV9 Bharatvasrh report). However, there is a mismatch in the father’s name. The viral ECI document states the father’s name as ‘Deepchand Sharma’, which does not match with the shooter’s father’s name reported by TV9 Bharatvarsh.
The names of the accused’s family members are not revealed in this report to protect the identity of a minor under Indian law.
Another report by Dainik Bhaskar carries the father’s name which matches with the one reported by TV9 Bharatvarsh.
A YouTube channel ‘Janjwar जनज्वार’ uploaded a ground report from Jewar where the channel spoke with neighbours and family members of the shooter, including his father who introduces himself at 6:35 minutes into the broadcast. The man does not refer to himself as ‘Deepchand Sharma’. The report also shows the shooter’s CBSE mark sheet where his father’s and mother’s names are visible. The father’s name matches with the one provided by TV9 Bharatvarsh and Dainik Bhaskar.
For further corroboration, Alt News rummaged through voter data on the ECI website.
To check an individual’s voter data, one has to provide mandatory details such as his/ her name, father’s or husband’s name, age or date of birth and state. Details about district and assembly constituency are optional but truncate the search results. A search on the ECI website with the accused’s details (both mandatory and optional), as reported in the media, throws no results. This means that there is no registered voter with those details.
Alt News also scoured the ECI website without providing specific details of district and constituency and only the mandatory details. We found only one voter (highlighted in red below) whose name and father’s name are the same as the shooter’s details. He is 19 years of age however, hails from Saharanpur unlike the shooter who hails from Gautam Buddha Nagar’s Jewar. For the rest, the father’s name was not an exact match as it carried a middle name.
The screenshot of the voter details viral on social media thus, do not match with the information available about the Jamia shooter, as reported in the media. His father’s name is not Deepchand Sharma, as corroborated via the father’s interview on the YouTube channel ‘Janjwar जनज्वार’.