A screenshot, purportedly that of Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, has gone viral to claim that Lucknow police has arrested some Muslim youth for trying to sell watermelon injected with AIDS-causing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
However, we found that claim was fabricated. We reached out to Dainik Bhaskar's Lucknow correspondent and he told us that the news organisation has not put out any such report. He also told us that the same screenshot was viral last year as well.
We also spoke with a doctor and found that HIV cannot be transmitted by water or food as it does not live long outside the human body.
The headline of the news article said, "एड्स संक्रमित इंजेक्शन लगाकर बेच रहे थे फल".
The story went on to say that, "On the basis of some secret information, the Lucknow Police today caught youths of a particular community who sold watermelons and melons on the roadside. After initial interrogation, the youth have admitted that they wanted to infect their customers with AIDS by injecting the fruits with HIV."
It also said the these melons were being sold in Hindu-dominated areas and added that the police arrested eight people.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We conducted a keyword search for the headline mentioned in the viral screenshot but were not able to find any report on Dainik Bhaskar with that headline.
We also looked at original reports on Dainik Bhaskar's website and mobile application and noticed that the headline font and the colour scheme used in the viral image were different from that the news organisation uses.
Next, we then reached out to Aditya Tiwari, a Dainik Bhaskar correspondent from Lucknow, and he told us that the screenshot was fake. He also added that the image was viral last year as well.
None of the senior police officials in Lucknow whom we contacted, had any details of any such case.
To find out if it is possible to spread AIDS by injecting the HIV virus into watermelons, we reached out to Dr Farah Ingale at Fortis Hiranandani Hospital.
Ingale, the director of internal medicine at the hospital, told us, "Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV cannot be transmitted by water or food. The fact is HIV does not live long outside the human body."
Even the World health Organization (WHO) states that individuals can't get infected through food, water, shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
"Most people get HIV through anal or vaginal sex, or by sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. One can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV. People should not believe in such rumours and consult with a doctor for any clarification."Dr Farah Ingale, Director-Internal Medicine, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital Vashi
Evidently, a fake message with a communal overtone is being shared to falsely claim that Muslim men were caught selling watermelons injected with HIV virus in Lucknow.
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