Days after Muslims in the Kandhla area of Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh clashed with the police over alleged assault of Tablighi Jamaat workers, the social media and local Whatsapp groups were abuzz with messages claiming a Muslim conspiracy to perform “another Godhra” in Shamli.
An angry crowd from Kandhla, a Muslim majority town, blocked the rail track on Saturday protesting against the alleged ill-treatment of a few Tablighi Jamaat volunteers on a local train near Badaut, in Baghpat.
The crowd threw stones at trains at Kandhla after which the Railway Police had to resort to lathi charge.
After the clash, hundreds of social media users, mainly from western Uttar Pradesh, and led by those ideologically affiliated to the right of centre, alleged that Muslims in Kandhla captured and detained Hindu passengers at the railway station in an attempt to portray the incident as “another Godhra”.
Mass messages were circulated mainly by numbers originating in western Uttar Pradesh claiming that “another Godhra” was enacted by Muslims at the Kandhla railway station on Saturday and alleged that the police and the media remained silent.
The messages also claimed that the police did not take any action against the “Muslim protesters who allegedly misbehaved with the Hindu passengers”.
Shamli SP warns rumour-mongers
Shamli Superintendent of Police Vijay Bhushan, however, rejected the rumour mongering and claimed that action was taken against the protesters at the Kandhla police station.
“Thousands of Muslims in Kandhla have stopped the 04735 Bikaner-Haridwar express and have captured and detained several Hindus. Where is the media and where are the political leaders,” claimed a Whatsapp message accessed by this correspondent.
“Muslim rioting mob is looting trains on Saharanpur-Delhi route. The Samajwadi Party MLA Nahid Hasan is leading the mob,” claimed another Whatsapp message.
Shamli remained tense on Sunday with markets in Kandhla remaining closed.
The conspiracy theories which were rejected by the authorities found endorsement on Twitter. Social media users with rightist leanings used the hashtag “GodhraAgain” which was trending on Twitter on Saturday.
“Why media is silent on Shamli incident. Are they waiting for something worse and big to take place. #GodhraAgain,” tweeted Rohit Chahal, national secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the BJP.
The Shamli Superintendent of Police said the police were maintaining a watch over rumour mongers and would take action against them.
Virender Singh, BJP leader in western Uttar Pradesh, alleged that “there was a clear directive to the police and the administration not to act against Muslims who were manhandling Hindu passengers at Kandhla railway station.”
“If you want justice for the alleged misbehaviour of Jamatis you should also apprehend those who misbehaved with passengers at the Kandhla railway station. And if the police can’t do justice then we will do justice on our own,” Mr. Singh warned.
“This is clear bias and discrimination against Hindus and Jats. It only helps them nurse grievance against Muslims and will get expressed in a big retaliation when their patience crosses its limits,” he said.