An official of Uttar Pradesh's Bhadohi Police has refuted a news article by wire agency IANS that claimed a woman allegedly drowned her five children in a river due to starvation arising out of the ongoing nationwide lockdown.
On April 12, 2020 Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported a heart-rending incident of a woman allegedly drowning her five children in a river at Jehangirabad of Bhadohi district, UP. The agency cited sources as saying that the woman earlier said that she and her children were not getting food in the lockdown and that there was no inflow of money as she was a daily wage earner. India is in the midst of a 21-day lockdown that is scheduled to end on April 14 but is most likely to be extended. Several states have already announced an extension.
"Sources, meanwhile, said that the woman had earlier said that she and her children were not getting food in the lockdown and money inflow had stopped because she was a daily wage earner," IANS reported. (Click here to read a cached version of the story)
BOOM contacted Superintendent of Police, Bhadohi, Ram Badan Singh who told us that the distressing incident was a result of anxiety arising out of disputes between the husband and wife. Singh denied any angle of starvation as a reason. "We visited the house and saw cooked food in the kitchen. They did not have any food problems," Singh told BOOM.
The SP also said that the bodies of four out of the five children have been retrieved from the river. They were all below the age of eleven.
IANS's story was picked up by Outlook. Outlook also carried a disclaimer saying the story was from an auto-generated feed and not edited by its staff.
The current headline on Outlook's site says - 'In A Shocking Incident, Mother In UP Throws 5 Children Into River'
BOOM also found other news reports on the incident where the accused has been identified as Manju devi. The woman had drowned her two sons and three daughters after a dispute with her husband, the news report said.
Outrage on Social Media
Several verified twitter handles have shared IANS' version of the news blaming the lockdown for the tragic incident.
Heartbreaking! In A Shocking Incident, Mother In UP Throws 5 Children Into River. She said that she had no food for her children & that she was a daily wage earner & her work stopped during lockdownhttps://t.co/768NPChTlh— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) April 12, 2020
UP में एक दिहाड़ी मजदूर माँ ने अपने 5 बच्चों को नदी में फेंककर आत्महत्या की कोशिश की. लॉक डाउन की वज़ह से वह बच्चों को खाना खिलाने में अक्षम थी. @cpimlliberation के handle पर तस्वीरे और वीडियो देखे जहां आज गरीबों ने देश के गांव बस्तियों में भूख के खिलाफ थाली बजा कर आक्रोश जताया. pic.twitter.com/iJz1EsEZhT— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) April 12, 2020
However, UP police took to its twitter handle to refute the claims. The official twitter handle of Bhadohi Police posted a picture of food prepared at the woman's home.
1/3.— UP POLICE (@Uppolice) April 13, 2020
The tragic and unfortunate incident of Jahangirabad in Bhadohi is not related to food shortage in any way. Cooked food was found in the house, photos of which are available. The woman is a homemaker. Her husband works locally as a driver and the family is of sufficient means pic.twitter.com/CspISworax
The tweet, in Hindi, reads 'Manju devi did not drown her five kids in the river due to starvation. The incident took place owing to other reasons. The photos clearly show that food had been prepared at Manju devi''s home and the kids were not drowned in the river due to starvation'.
मंजू देवी ने अपने 05 बच्चों को भूखमरी के कारण गंगा नदी में नहीं डुबाया है।अन्य कारण द्वारा घटना को अंजाम दिया गया है। मंजू देवी के घर में खाना बना है फोटो से स्पष्ट है कि भुखमरी के कारण बच्चों को नदी में नहीं डुबाया गया है।@Uppolice @adgzonevaranasi @digmirzapur pic.twitter.com/lBzF0ikFam— BHADOHI POLICE (@bhadohipolice) April 12, 2020
DIG Mirzapur, UP, also retweeted Bhadohi police' tweet with a video wherein the accused can be seen speaking.
The accused can be heard saying 'I drowned them in water. I was tensed and so I drowned them'. A man asks her, "Why were you tense? Was there a shortage of food, or some domestic dispute?", to which the woman says,"Yes. There were quarrels because of which I was tensed. There were disputes with my husband. The woman also claims in the video that her husband used to beat her up quite often.
Bhadohi SP had also told BOOM about disputes between the accused and her husband. "Daily quarrels can rile up anyone. We cannot comment about her mental state but domestic fights can agitate anyone," he said.
A tweet from Bhadohi police' official Twitter handle suggests that the department has initiated action against some news agencies and individuals regarding the coverage of the incident.
@bhadohipolice सोशल मीडिया पर कुछ व्यक्तियों एवं न्यूज़ एजेंसी द्वारा झूठी व भ्रामक खबर, की लॉक डाउन के कारण भूख से तंग आकर मंजू देवी द्वारा अपने बच्चों को गंगा नदी में डुबोया गया जिस संबंध में थाना गोपीगंज द्वारा अभियोग पंजीकृत किया गया।@Uppolice @adgzonevaranasi @digmirzapur pic.twitter.com/UerIYietz4— BHADOHI POLICE (@bhadohipolice) April 13, 2020
BOOM also contacted IANS. We will update the report when we hear from them
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