Viral video of staged kidnapping now circulates with child abduction rumour in Kutch, Gujarat

કચ્છ પોલીસે જાહેરનામુ બહાર પાડયું છે… હાલની તારીખ માં જે બાળકો ઉપાડવાનું બનાવ બને છે એ હકીકતમાં બહુ દુઃખદ વસ્તુ છે હમણાં કચ્છની અંદર અઢીસો થી ત્રણસો લોકો (બાળકો ઉપાળવા ની ગેંગ) કચ્છમાં આવી ગયા છે આ બધા લોકો બહાર ના છે. તો અમારી સૌને ને અપીલ છે કે તમારા બાળકોનો ખાસ ધ્યાન રાખો ખાસ કરીને રાત ના સમયે બાળકો ને એકલા ના મૂકો અમારી આ લોકો ને પકડવાની કોશિશ ચાલુ છે. (Kutch Police has issued a notification. Till date, whichever incidents of child abduction have happened are regretful. Now, a gang of 250 to 300 people from outside has entered Kutch. So our appeal to everyone is that take care of your children and especially during the night don’t leave them alone, we are trying to find them out -translated). A WhatsApp message is being circulated in Gujarat to ‘spread awareness’ about an alleged gang of 250 to 300 ‘outsiders’ who are planning to abduct children. It further states that parents shouldn’t leave their children alone, and that efforts are on to nab this gang.

The message has also been shared on multiple Facebook accounts with similar text. A similar yet different version claims that this gang has been arrested. A Facebook account has also shared the same post quoting a local news website Kutch Care News. In a Google image search, we found that the images attached to the post showing the people supposedly behind the act are unrelated to each other and are much older.

કચ્છ પોલીસે જાહેરનામુ બહાર પાડયું છે હાલની તારીખમાં જે છોકરો ઉપાડવાનું બનાવ બને છે એ હકીકતમાં બહુ દુઃખદ વસ્તુ છે હમણાં…

Posted by Vasudev Acharya on Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A local news website Kutch Seva published article conveyed the same message which was viewed more than 350 times. In a conversation with Alt News, Hitesh Soni, owner of Kutch Care News acknowledged that the website had reported a rumour said, “The Message was forwarded on one of our WhatsApp groups but now, we are issuing a rebuttal on it as it was a baseless claim based on public sentiment.”

Alt News contacted the office of District Superintendent of Police, Kutch who informed us that such rumors about child abduction are rampant in the district.

Origin of the Video

Alt News broke the video into individual frames using the InVid software for videos, and reverse searched the image via Google. A video demonstration of the fact-check can be seen below.

Alt News found that this is an old video from 2016 made for awareness purposes by an organization named Roshni Helpline. The video ends with the text: “Every year, over 3000 children go missing in Karachi, Pakistan. Keep an eye on your child.” The abduction was staged to educate people about rampant child abduction in Karachi. The original video is posted below.

The video has been viral in different states in the past month. Earlier, the claim was debunked in May 2018 when The News Minute reported that this video is circulating in Tamil Nadu. On June 5, the video re-entered the fake news ecosystem of Maharashtra. Now, this video is being utilized to back a hoax that a gang of abductors has arrived in Kutch district of Gujarat which has led to a fear psychosis among the residents. Despite the claim being debunked repeatedly, it continues to circulate on social media with alarming regularity and new rumours each time.

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