Monday, 30th October 2017

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Aligarh toddler's murder: What happened, and what didn’t

A sea of (mis)information and sensationalism surrounds the brutal murder of a toddler in Aligarh

By Bhagyasri Chaudhury in Kolkata
  • Published 7.06.19, 3:31 PM
  • Updated 8.06.19, 12:53 PM
  • a min read
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A hashtag using the victim's name is trending on social media with an ensuing deluge of over 17,000 tweets expressing horror and outrage in the last 24 hours (Shutterstock)

Three days after a two-and-a-half year old girl was abducted, her mutilated body was carried by stray dogs out of a dumping ground on Sunday in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.  Widespread condemnation and outrage sparked on social media via hashtags and tweets that included misinformation.

The child's body was found close to her house in Tappal town on the outskirts of Aligarh. The police have arrested two of the accused, Zahid and Aslam, who have confessed to the crime. They were her neighbours and lived about half a kilometre away. Initial investigations suggest that the motive was revenge, as the girl’s parents allegedly failed to repay a loan of Rs. 10,000.

The Aligarh Police said that they will probe the murder under the National Security Act (NSA) and transfer the case to a fast track court.

The brutality of the incident is shocking. However, social media and popular media reports are abuzz with reactions from celebrities and netizens alike who claim that the minor was raped, had her eyes gouged out, and was poured acid on- all of which are untrue.

Alt News, a popular fact-checking site, confirmed through their sources that the post-mortem made no mention of rape. Aligarh police clarified this via a tweet, after a social media user claimed that the victim was raped.

Contrary to the morbid details in popular media, Akash Kulhary, SSP Aligarh confirmed that the victim was not raped. He added that the post-mortem report mentions death by strangulation as the cause, and that claims about the victim’s eyes being gouged out, and acid being poured are false.

A communal air to this shocking event is billowing, as enraged social media users compare the minor's violent death to the horrific abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa Bano in Kathua. There is a growing demand for stringent justice for the accused. The incident has sparked rage, but misinformation is being spread like wildfire on social media, with the potential to further exacerbate tension and mistrust during troubled times.

However, there are many who have not allowed communalism to overshadow the seriousness and brazen nature of the child's murder, and demand justice for the accused.