The initial investigation by Police revealed that the claim of a youth being set ablaze in UP for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram is false. According to an eyewitness, the boy had set himself on fire.
There have been some incidents where members of the minority community have been cornered and forced to say "Jai Shri Ram" in the last few months. However, on the deeper analysis, we found that the majority of such claims turned out to be either fake or over-exaggerated.
Today, ABP News tweeted that a teenager was set ablaze in UP for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram.
The article by ABP News was tweeted by Prashant Bhushan with a caption, "Teenager set ablaze in UP for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram. Unnao rape victim of BJP MLA has serious road accident in which her lawyer & mother die. Earlier her father & witness were killed. Soldier lynched by mob in Amethi. All in a day in lawless UP!".
Outlook also published an article claiming that the teenager was set on fire when he refused to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. Outlook further reports that the victim gave the statement on the hospital's camera.
The Wire journalist, Arfa Khanum Sherwani and Ashok Swain were few prominent people who added fuel to this rumour. Ashik Swain's tweet reads, "Hindutva beasts have set on fire a 15-year old Muslim Boy in UP for not chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' - Where is this India heading to".
However, Chandauli Police in Uttar Pradesh has denied the allegations that the 17-year-old boy Khalid was beaten up and set on fire for refusing to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
SP of Chandauli says that boy has given different statements which were found to be false in the investigation. He kept on changing his statements and eye witness saw him setting himself ablaze. Here is the video statement of SP Santosh Kumar Singh.
SP said that around 5:30, they got the information that a 16-17 years old boy Khalid returned to his home with 45% burn on his body. The local police reached the spot and admitted the boy in the district hospital from where he was referred to BHU for further treatment. But bed was not available in BHI, so he has been admitted in Kashi's Kabir Chaura hospital.
SP said that in one of his statement, the Khalid had gone for a run at Mandrarkpur village where four masked people took him to a field, threw kerosene on him and set him on fire.
When SP talked to him at the hospital, the boy said the incident took place in Chhatel village which was in opposite direction. It was also about 1.5-2 kms from the village he had earlier claimed. He further said that the boy told the same version of the incident to the doctor as well.
However, when he was referred to BHU, he told the police officer accompanying him that he was stopped by men on a motorbike at Dudhari Pulia. and was forcefully made to sit on the motorbike and taken to ‘Bhatija mod’ which is in yet another opposite direction. He added that there he was dragged into a field and set ablaze.
Police became suspicious when he gave three different versions of the story.
He further mentioned that in 2017 some Muslim youths from the Syedraja police station, the jurisdiction under which the incident falls under, got into a brawl with some youths from Mandrarkpur village which the boy mentioned in his first statement. One of the names Khalid mentioned was one Sunil. Sunil hails from Mandrarkpur who was going to file a complaint against the Muslim boys after the brawl in 2017. This further raised the suspicion.
He said that they checked CCTV footage of all the routes Khalid mentioned in his statements but they could not see him in any of the locations.
They then went on the direction he had not mentioned in any of his claims. From the CCTV camera of one of the residents, Khalid could be spotted at around 5:15 walking in burnt condition. The eyewitness (Jaiswal Jee) who saw the boy said that he mistook him for someone who was coming after fishing and was covered in sand.
The police team then tried to investigate further and went in the direction the boy was seen coming from. About 2 km further at Saraiya village, there was a Mazar(Kale Khan Baba) where one of his yellow slippers and burnt clothes were found. When they were investigating, right across the dargah one Dinesh Maurya, who works as a hawker said that around 4:25 am, when he was distributing newspapers, it was drizzling. He said that one mad person was setting himself on fire and running around. Maurya says he went after the burning boy for a few meters before the boy started running in a different direction.
Chandauli Police tweeted a video statement of her mother in which she can be heard saying that his son didn't mention any reason behind the incident. There was no mention of any religious slogan. You can watch her statement here:
Conclusion: The initial investigation reveals that the claim of youth being set ablaze in UP for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram is false. According to an eyewitness, the boy had set himself on fire.
Even after clarification by the police, PTI published an article with a highly misleading title, "Teen set ablaze for 'not chanting' Jai Shri Ram dies: Police". The article by PTI was published by India Today and shared on Twitter with a caption "Shocking".
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