Bodies of Ripah University students found in Islamabad? What we know so far

Police and university dimiss rumors on social media; SAMAA Digital also runs FactCheck

Social media was jolted on Saturday afternoon when gruesome pictures surfaced showing bodies of two women, dumped at separate but unidentified locations. It was claimed that the bodies were of students of an Islamabad-based private university and were targeted for participating in a women’s movement.

Even though the police and the university denied that any such incident took place on Saturday, the issue continued to spread like wildfire on social media platforms with condemnations of the suspected murder pouring in.

What we know so far

On Saturday afternoon, social media was abuzz after some pictures surfaced showing the bodies of two women dumped in a field but at separate locations. It was claimed that the bodies were dumped near the university’s campus in the federal capital’s semi and suburban area of Koral.

Shared with these images was an image containing note in Urdu, which sought to claim responsibility for the alleged murders of the women whose bodies were allegedly found dumped.

The note, which appeared to have been typed digitally and then printed, claimed that the women were students of the Islamabad-based Ripah International University.

It continued that the women had allegedly been abducted from hostels where they had taken up accommodation. They were then allegedly raped and murdered before their bodies were dumped.

Further, it said that the women were targeted because they participated in the Aurat March. The author(s) of the note said that women who participate in the march or wear western and tight-fitting clothes are their target.

The note suggested that its author(s) had organized in the shape of a group and who were setting up a network across the country to target women. It threatened to target further students and faculty of the university.

As this information spread on microblogging platform Twitter, other videos surfaced which showed some police officers from a distance entering a compound. The video claimed that the officers were from the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police who were visiting the campus

No incident reported

As the incident drew greater traction on social media, the ICT Police spoke on “the issue of rumors about dead bodies being found at Riphah University” after an investigation.

The statement said that they have not received any complaint or incident report about any bodies being found dumped in the city.

Furthermore, it said that the university administration too had denied the rumors.

Despite this, the police maintained that they were investigating the matter using all available resources.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Riphah University said that “fake news is circulating about female students of Riphah International University. No such incident occurred with the university or any student. [The] university is contacting the cyber crime department and legal action will be taken against those spreading the fake news.”

SAMAA TV independently conducted a factcheck on reports about the bodies, but found little evidence that the incident took place on Saturday.

SAMAA TV’s Mudassir Aziz contacted rescue services and hospitals in the twin cities and found that no such dead bodies had been brought in for medico-legal procedures in recent days.

Digital forensics and factcheck of some of the media shared found them to be unsubstantiated. A video claiming to show Islamabad Police officers walking into the university campus were inconsistent with the current state of buildings and other structures on the campus.

Moreover, SnapMap - the geographical feature of video-based social media network SnapChat, did not return any Snaps - short videos - from the location. The video in question had contained characteristics particular to a SnapChat video.

Meanwhile, a post dating back to April 27, which contained the same images, and which was widely shared on Saturday, has been deleted.

Riphah University

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