Morphed Clips, Unrelated Images Revived To Spread Child Kidnapping Rumours

A slew of debunked videos and images are being circulated on Whatsapp with false child kidnapping rumours.

Debunked video clips and unrelated images which were earlier peddled to stoke child kidnapping rumours on social media have resurfaced and are being circulated again on WhatsApp.

The set of messages consist of a gruesome image of a beheaded minor boy, a clip of him being killed, a doctored video clip of an officer warning of 500 alleged organ harvesters on the prowl and a slideshow of unrelated images to establish a narrative that these abductors possess deadly weapons. BOOM has received the set of images together and separately several times on its helpline and tipline numbers. Screenshots below show that the content has been forwarded 'many times' on the messaging app. The video and image files are being circulated without any text.

Video and image of beheaded minor

The gruesome video of a man slitting a minor's throat is a recent incident from Rajasthan that is being circulated to stoke child kidnapping rumours on Whatsapp. The incident occurred on January 8 in Karad village of Dantaramgarh Tehsil, where a minor, Uttam Rager, was killed by his 21-year old cousin Kailashchand Rager. According to Dantaramgarh Police, the accused, who has been mentally unstable, killed his cousin because of an ongoing family feud. He has since been taken into custody. We reached out to Himmat Singh, inspector, Dantaramgarh police station, who said, "The victim and the assailant are related to each other. The victim returned from the school and they were playing in the main market area of Karad village until an hour before the crime took place. According to local villagers, Kailashchand has psychiatric problems and was jealous of his 10-year-old cousin. He has been under medication for the same." He also dismissed child abduction rumours associated with the same video.

Read BOOM's fact check here.

Video of Uttar Pradesh police warning against child kidnapping rumours edited

An edited video of a senior Uttar Pradesh police official asking people not to believe messages about illegal organ traders and child kidnappers has resurfaced to spread the same rumours on WhatsApp. BOOM had debunked the same clipped footage when it was viral in 2019. The edited video has a voice over claiming to be Gorahkhpur police 'informing people about child kidnapping gangs'. The video shows a news bulletin where additional Superintendent of Police (SP) Gorakhpur, Dr Kaustubh is seen interacting with the press. The original audio of Kaustubh warning against believing in rumours has been replaced with voiceover in Hindi about 'more than 500 organ traders disguised as beggars are on the prowl'. BOOM reached out to Dr Kaustubh, additional SP (city), Gorakhpur, who rubbished sharing any such message about organ traders attacking people.

Clip with old debunked images used to spread child abduction rumours

The 18 second long clip viral with child kidnapping rumours consists of images which have already been debunked when they were circulated with the same narrative separately earlier. The video has been overlaid with an unrelated narration that warns people of sharing an image to all the groups and contacts.

Image 1 and 2

Photographs of a crowd gathered around a car are originally from August, 2019. These images and a few others showing children seated in a car's storage, were viral during the same time after the crowd confronted the family, traveling with the children, on suspicion of being child kidnappers. The incident happened in Ladwa, Haryana when the family was attacked based on such a suspicion. BOOM had then reached out to Ladwa Police, who said, that the children were accommodated in the car's storage space because of lack of space. The family was traveling to Haryana to perform the last rites of a senior family member. Read BOOM's Fact-Check here.

Image 3

The screenshot of a Facebook post featuring an already debunked image of two men, misidentified as child abductors in Gwalior and attacked based on rumours, has resurfaced. The text with of the Facebook post reads, "Beware! Take care of your children. Three organ harvesters who were trying to abduct children in Gwalior Transport Nagar have been caught by the cops. The police is taking them to the station."

BOOM had earlier found that these men are a self proclaimed godman and two of his disciples respectively, who were beaten up by an angry mob on such suspicions. According to a report published by Dainik Bhaskar the incident is from August 7, 2019 when a local godman Sakhi baba, dressed as a woman, was headed towards Gwalior city, when he was attacked by a mob who suspected them to be kidnappers. They were later rescued by local police persons. Read BOOM's Fact Check here.

Image 4

The image of a sex racket bust in Ratlam has been circulated with claims that the accused seen in the photograph are a gang of child abductors who were apprehended by the cops. BOOM ran a keyword search with Ratlam Police and was directed to a news report by Hindi newspaper , which reported about a sex racket bust in the city earlier this week. Read BOOM's fact check here.

Image 5

The image showing weapons like swords and knives on display on a table are originally from a 2016 arms racket bust in Gujarat. BOOM found that the weapons were seized by Gujarat's Rajkot police when they raided a hotel and arrested people for dealing in an illegal arms racket. We had found a tweet by a local news outlet, Gujarat Headline News, which carried the same images shot from a different angle. The same images have been revived several times in the past with communal claims that they are arms found in mosques. Read BOOM's fact check here.

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