Two journalists have been booked for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups of people through fake news on the drowning of two minor sisters in a village pond in the district, police said on Wednesday. In a late evening twist to the episode, a man claiming to the girls’ uncle, alleged in a video on social media that he was threatened and forced by Fatehpur Superintendent of Police Prashant Verma to cremate the girls’ bodies at night.

The SP, however, could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated attempts.

His PRO told PTI that the SP was away and the information about the phone call will be conveyed to him. In the video, the girls’ uncle Lakshmikant is heard purportedly saying that he was threatened by the SP and forced to cremate the bodies in the night.

The girls’ uncle alleged that “SP sahab is forcibly getting the last rites performed in the night and threatening that if it is not done, he would get cases lodged against us and send us to jail. Due to fear, we got the last rites performed in the night.” In the video, which is said to be of Tuesday night, the uncle also remarked, “We are not satisfied, we want a CBI probe into the matter. We have given an application for lodging an FIR in the matter.” Earlier in the day, a senior police officer said following the death by drowning of the two sisters in Asothar area, the two journalists had run a misleading report that the victims’ hands were tied and eyes damaged and they were raped.

In reality, as also supported by the autopsy reports, the two sisters, aged 12 and 8 years, had died of drowning in the pond where they had gone to fetch “singhara” (water caltrops), he said. For spreading the fake news, journalist Dhara Singh Yadav and an unnamed reporter of a UP-based news channel have been booked under section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code (for promoting enmity between different groups of people on the ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony), the officer said.

The two have also been booked under section 353 of the IPC, which pertains to the assault or use of criminal force against a public servant to deter him from discharging his duty and some relevant section of the Information Technology Act, the official said. When asked Dhara Singh Yadav said, “Whatever news was run on the channel, it was based on statements of the victims” family. We have proof of that. The case has been lodged against us to harass us. The two sisters had been pulled out from a village pond and their family had alleged rape and demanded a CBI probe while the autopsy report pointed to drowning.

The SP had on Tuesday said a panel of doctors had conducted the autopsy, which said the deaths were due to drowning. “There are misleading reports in social media that hands of the girls were tied and their eyes were damaged,” he had said, rejecting apprehensions of rape. On November 16, the bodies of the two sisters were retrieved from a pond here and their family alleged rape and demanded a CBI probe while the autopsy report pointed to drowning. The family had suspected a failed rape bid after the bodies were recovered from the pond on Monday night.

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