A video, which shows commotion and fight between a group of men is being widely shared on Twitter and Facebook to claim that a bunch of Muslim men hit ‘secularists’ who had visited a dargah (shrine) in Uttarakhand’s Jaspur.
However, we spoke to the investigating officer and men from both the groups involved in the fight. They rubbished the claim and said that there was no communal angle to the matter. The men belonged to the same community.
Sudarshan News, a news channel, which has been called out on various occasions for spreading misinformation, shared the video and claimed that ‘secularists’ were beaten by the caretakers of the mazar (mausoleum).
The same false claim was further amplified by the Editor-in-Chief of the news channel, Suresh Chavhanke, Supreme Court Advocate Prashant Patel Umrao, and others. (An archived version of the tweets can be found here and here.)
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We came across a news report on ETV Bharat published on 29 March, which reported on the incident. The news report mentioned that a fight ensured between the caretaker of the mazar situated in Jaspur’s Udham Singh Nagar and devotees.
As per the report, some devotees had come to the dargah on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat and an altercation over a “trivial matter” snowballed into a fight in which three people were reportedly injured. One of them had to be hospitalised.
We also came across a statement released by Udham Singh Nagar police on their Facebook page rubbishing the rumours being spread on social media. It stated that both the parties involved in the matter belonged to the same community.
"“It is being claimed on social media that Hindus were beaten up, but the truth is that both the parties involved in the matter belong to the Muslim community and the rumours are false.”" - Police statement
The statement added that the dispute was over donations and construction. The names of the two parties involved in the matter were mentioned as Amjad Ali and Abdul Hameed. An FIR had been lodged under relevant sections of the IPC.
WHAT DID THE INVOLVED PARTIES HAVE TO SAY?
We also contacted the two parties who were involved in the matter and both of them refuted any communal angle to the incident.
We first contacted Amjad, who was one of the devotees who visited the dargah and was involved in the fight. According to him the fight broke out after the caretaker asked them to donate more money than they had. He alleged that when they questioned him about the money already received, a fight broke out.
"“The social media rumours about this being a communal matter are false. We all belong to the same community and had visited the dargah to pray. The fight broke out when we donated Rs 10 and the caretaker asked us to donate more money.” " - Amjad Ali
He added that his brother Mohd Waseem (aka Sonu) was badly injured and was admitted to a hospital.
We also contacted Sadik Ali, son of the caretaker and one of the complainants, Hameed. While he rubbished the communal rumours, he alleged that the reason for the fight was not donations or construction, but a long-standing dispute between the two groups.
However, this made it evident, that a false communal narrative was woven and widely shared on social media without verifying facts.
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