A photo of Vinay Sharma - one of the adult convicts - in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape case, is going viral on social media with a false claim that he is the juvenile convict in the case receiving police protection.
A photo showing a man in a white t-shirt and blue jeans walking surrounded by a cordon of policemen is being shared on Facebook and Twitter with a misleading claim that he is the juvenile rapist, identified as Mohammed Afroz alias Raju, according to a few news reports at the time.
(Note the text accompanying the post contains graphic description of sexual assault)
The text with the image, where Sharma has been circled in yellow, claims the following.
"He is Mohammed Afroz. The then under 18 rapist in the most heinous Delhi Nirbhaya rape case. "The laws of the country allowed him to go scot-free because he was then a minor. As per Nirbhaya and her friend's statement, Afroz was the most brutal and barbaric guy. He thrusted iron rid into the genital of the victim. Now he goes to gym and sculpts his body. You can see that in the above photo. Incredibly, he is given police security like a celebrity! Our taxes are spent in protecting a rapist!" (Sic)
The posts come at a time when one of the convicts - Akshay Thakur, has filed a review petition of his death sentence.
Meanwhile, Vinay Sharma, whose photograph is viral, had written to the home ministry and the president of India to withdraw his mercy petition stating that the petition was filed without his consent. The Supreme Court had earlier rejected a similar petition by him and two other convicts - Mukesh Singh, and Pawan Gupta.
BOOM ran the photograph through a reverse image search. We found several articles identifying the man in the photo as Vinay Sharma. Moreover, the photograph of the juvenile convict has never been published in the public domain. His identity even after serving a three-year term has been kept secret considering his safety.
Recently, an old photograph of Vinay Sharma was used by several news websites because of the withdrawal of his mercy petition. According to The New Indian Express, the letter sent to the president and the Ministry of Home Affairs, Sharma's lawyer AP Singh sought to cancel the petition. The article was published by the English daily has the same picture of Vinay Sharma.
The same photograph, which is viral, can be seen in the screenshot below that had been taken by The Hindu staff.
Sharma and the juvenile were part of the six who raped a 23-year-old paramedical student in Delhi onboard a moving bus on December 16, 2012. The brutality of the crime shocked the entire country and triggered widespread protests demanding justice for the victim.
The accused had been convicted and sentenced to death in 2013 by a trial court in Delhi. Later, the prime accused Ram Singh died in custody. Meanwhile, the juvenile convict received a lighter sentence and served a three-year term at north Delhi's Majnu Ka Tila shelter home. The sentence angered many and led to more protests which eventually led to the passing of the Juvenile Justice Act in 2015. He was working as a cook in south India, the Hindustan Times reported in 2016. There has been no news of him since.
On December 10, 2019, the Hindu reported all four convicts ( Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh, and Akshay Thakur) had been shifted to Tihar jail triggering speculation of their imminent hanging. BOOM has not independently verified the same.