A day after the charred body of a 26-year-old veterinarian from Telangana, who was allegedly gang raped, was found, right wing Twitter handles gave the incident communal overtones by claiming Muslims were behind the heinous crime. BOOM spoke to Cyberabad police, investigating the case, who denied any communal angle to the incident and warned against sharing fake and communally sensitive posts. The police in a press statement released late evening the names of the accused - Mohammed alias Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu.
"There are three Hindus and one Muslim in the list of the accused. So tell me, how is it a communal incident?" said a senior police officer who was part of the investigating team.
"This is only causing more worry to the parents."
The woman's burnt body was found early on Thursday morning, in the Outer Ring Road underpass in Chatanpally village on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Cyberabad police on Thursday arrested four accused - Naveen, Shiva, Mohammed and Keshavulu for the same.
The News Minute (TNM) reported that the young doctor was a resident of Shamshabad and used to work in Nawabpet. On November 27, the victim was returning from Gachibowli and while she tried to get her two-wheeler from the parked space near Tondupalli toll gate, a lorry driver informed her that the vehicle's rear tyre was punctured and offered to help her. The same report also carried a transcript of a call the victim made to her sister, minutes before she went missing, where she sounded distressed and scared.
Even before the arrests were confirmed by the police, several Twitter handles, many of them right leaning, started tweeting about the incident giving it a communal hue.
Payal Rohatgi, tweeted the details of the rape saying, "Hindu girl raped and murdered by rapists in Shadnagar of Hyderabad. Is Shadnagar a Muslim majority area?"
Mahesh Hegde, founder of fake news site Postcard News, who has in the past been arrested for spreading fake news with a communal twist, tweeted saying,"Yes, our sister Dr (victim's name) was raped & burnt alive.By none other than Mohammad Pasha & gang!"
Advocate Prashant Umrao Patel, who has in the past has tweeted fake news of a communal nature tweeted, "Mohammad Pasha with his Gang, raped Hyderabad doctor & burned alive. They have become denger (sic) to survival of Humanity & every Hindu Woman is on target on them."
By Thursday afternoon, even before the arrests were announced by Secunderabad police, the hashtag, "#Balatkari_Mohammed_Nikala" and #HangMohammedPasha started trending on Twitter.
Amit Malviya, Bharatiya Janata Party IT in-charge also tweeted about the case but only mentioned the name of one accused - Mohammed.
BJP MLA Raja Singh tweeted a video about the incident where he says that he expected someone like "a Mohammed" would be named in the incident, refering to Muslims.
Right leaning website Swarajya also reported the incident but did not mention the names of all the accused, focusing only on one accused - Mohammed. The article said, "The prime suspect, identified as Mohammed Pasha, along with others is suspected to have kidnapped, gang-raped and killed her. Pasha is a native of Mahbubnagar district".
Madhu Kishwar who frequently shares fake news and communal and sensitive content tweeted the above Swarajya story claiming, "And they tell us we shouldn't be #Islamophobic If this is what they do when they are a so called minority, imagine our fate when they morph into a majority."
Sudarshan News editor, Suresh Chavhanke who regularly makes provocative statements and has shared fake news in the past claimed that the police "forcibly arrested two Hindus" in a bid to "balance the arrest of Mohammed". BOOM has called out Chavhanke and Sudarshan News in the past for sharing misinformation.
The Cyberabad police in a press conference said that they had arrested four people - two lorry drivers and two cleaners - and identified the arrested accused as Mohammed alias Areef, Shiva, Naveen and Chennakeshavulu alias Chenna, all residents of Narayanpeth district in Telangana.
According to the police, the four would deliver goods across the state and in neighbouring states in their lorry and on November 26, they parked their vehicle near the Tondupalli toll gate since the person set to receive the goods was not available.The police said the accused hatched the plan on the evening of November 27, when they saw the victim park her bike near their vehicle and hatched the plan to commit the crime while in an inebriated state.
"As per the plan, Naveen punctured the rear tyre of the victim's two-wheeler and at around 9.18 pm when the victim returned to the toll gate, Mohammed got down from his lorry, approached her and informed her about the puncture. He then offered help to the victim and asked the cleaner Shiva to get the puncture fixed," said VC Sajjanar, Commissioner, Cyberabad police. He added that the while waiting, the victim called her sister and told her she was scared and described the physical features of the accused.
The police explained that after sometime, the cleaner Shiva returned claiming the shop was closed and left to get it fixed at another garage."It was then that the other three Mohammed, Naveen and Chennakeshavulu forcibly took her inside the compound nearby. Shiva also returned and all the accused raped her," he said.
After the rape, Mohammed forcibly closed her mouth and nose leading to her death. "Then Areef and Chennakeshavulu put the body in the lorry cabin and took left from the area while Naveen and Shiva took the victim's scooter and went to buy petrol in an empty bottle. After sometime, all of them reached the underpass near Shadnagar crossroads and carried the victim's body covered in a blanket and set it on fire using the petrol and diesel," he said.
BOOM also reached out Sajjanar to ask him if there is a communal angle in the case as the tweets claims. Sajjanar said, "No communal angle to the incident."