“BREAKING: Statue of Swami #Vivekananda “beheaded” / destroyed allegedly by #Muslims in Bhadohi, UP. Is India Saudi Arabia ? Media silent.“, tweeted Shankhnaad. Shankhnaad is one of the most toxic accounts on social media. They have over 1.3 million followers on Facebook and 17.4 thousand followers on Twitter and have been caught multiple times spreading fake videos and images with the sole purpose of fomenting communal hatred. Is this account upto its dirty tricks again?
On 26th October, at Sadar Kotwali, Nai Bazar Road in Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh, a statue of Swami Vivekananda was found damaged with the head of the statue lying on the ground beside the statue. A rather unknown website called Akhand Bharat News was the first to report this issue. This report claimed that an anti-social element had broken the statue of Swami Vivekananda and was subsequently arrested. Patrika reported the same incident on October 27th and stated that the district administration has promised to install a new statue.
Even though none of the news reports had stated anything about the religion of the accused, social media made this into a communal affair with posts on both Facebook and Twitter claiming that people belonging to the Muslim community were behind this incident. The tweet by Shankhnaad got retweeted the most number of times with over 2600 retweets at the time of writing.
A rather popular website called Topyaps.com referred to Shankhnaad’s tweet and published a story titled, “Swami Vivekananda’s Statue Gets Damaged In ISIS Style In UP’s Bhadohi“. The story goes on to make innuendos completely contradictory to the prevalent news reports. The first para of the story states, “Whatever may be one’s political affiliation, the respect for Swami Vivekananda remains indistinguishable. Except, of course, the far Left and anti-Hindu religious fundamentalists, no one can even think of insulting Swami Vivekananda. But some anti-social elements have damaged a statue Swami Vivekananda located at Sadar Kotwali, New Bazar Road, Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh.“.
However, when a Twitter user tagged UP Police on Twitter, urging them to take action, Bhadohi police’s Twitter account responded stating that the accused had already been arrested, his name being Premchandra Gautam, son of Neeraj Gautam. Bhadohi police further stated that the accused was arrested at 12:55 pm on 26th October.
Fact-checking website BoomLive.in who was the first to do a fact-check regarding this claim also spoke to additional SP of Bhadohi, Sanjay Kumar, who rubbished the claims on social media and stated that the accused was mentally challenged.
Another day, another rumour, another set of right-wing Hindutva accounts using fakery to further their hate agenda. At what point will the police smoke out the anti-social elements behind accounts like Shankhnaad? At what point will Twitter finally decide to close their accounts for repeated fake news that foments hatred? Who would be responsible if rumours from one of these usual suspects leads to a riot yet again?