[Trigger warning: Report related to sexual abuse]

On March 19, ANI tweeted about sexual abuse case in Pune. The tweet reported [sic], “An 11-year-old girl was sexually abused by four men in her family for the last four years in Pune. FIR registered against the girl’s father, brother, grandfather and maternal uncle in Bundgarden Police Station: Pune Police”.

Just over an hour later, Twitter user @DharAnilkumar, whose display image is of the poster of controversial film The Kashmir Files, named four Muslim men and alleged that the barbaric incident took place in a Muslim household. As per him, Abdul, Javed, Farhan, Nizam raped the 11-year-old. This tweet gained over 1,000 retweets.

Facebook user and BJP supporter Atul Kumar also made the same claim by sharing a screenshot of @DharAnilkumar’s tweet.

Twitter user @Right_Wing_Guyy made the same claim while replying to ANI’s tweet and later deleted it.

However, he hasn’t deleted the reply to the tweet that has circulated on social media. He wrote [sic], “When the names of the culprits are not mentioned in the article, it’s easier to guess the names..”

Several Facebook users shared screenshots of the deleted tweet by @Right_Wing_Guyy. This PDF captures some accounts that shared the claim in high network groups or pages.

Bund Garden Police Station Inspector Refutes The Claim

As per a Hindustan Times report, the sexual assaults were committed over a span of five years, starting from 2017, when the girl was eight. The report mentioned that the accused were a 14-year-old brother, a 45-year-old father, a 60-year-old grandfather and a 25-year-old uncle. A case has been registered under various Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Inspector Ashwini Satpute from the Bund Garden police station told HT, “The incident came to light when the girl opened up during a ‘good touch and bad touch’ session at her school.”

On March 21, over a telephonic call, Inspector Satpute told Alt News, “I can confirm that the accused are not from the Muslim community. At the moment, maternal grandfather, maternal uncle and brother are in custody. We are in process of bringing father into custody who is Bihar at the moment.”

Alt News also spoke with a crime reporter at a leading national daily. The reporter who had the FIR shared the screenshot of all the accused the names on the FIR. The names are not Abdul, Javed, Farhan, Nizam. Alt News has not mentioned the names of the accused because it will compromise the survivor’s identity.

To sum it up, a case of sexual assault on a minor in Pune was shared with the false claim that the accused are from the Muslim community. Social media users shared ANI’s tweet along with the fictional names of the accused.

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About the Author

Archit is a senior fact-checking journalist at Alt News. Previously, he has worked as a producer at WION and as a reporter at The Hindu. In addition to work experience in media, he has also worked as a fundraising and communication manager at S3IDF.