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Padmaavat: Police breaks out rumour that Muslim men attacked GD Goenka school bus


(G.N.S) Dt. 27


Since Thursday, social media was rife with rumours that among those arrested for Wednesday’s attack on a GD Goenka World School bus in Gurugram were five Muslims, implying the violence was orchestrated to sully the image of Rajputs and the government. The five were also named, lending that much more credibility to the rumour. On Friday morning, Gurugram police had to issue a clarification that this was not true.

“This is to clarify that no Muslim men have been detained in relation to the recent acts of vandalism on a Haryana Roadways bus and a School bus in Gurugram,” Gurugram police tweeted from its official handle at 11.44 am. Rajput outfit Karni Sena which had threatened to stop the screening of Padmaavat, had on Sunday issued a statement saying that if the film is released, there would be communal riots.

In this surcharged atmosphere, this rumour could have acted as a spark. Alt News, a website which specialises in spotting fake news, claimed the rumour was first spread by Shalini Kapoor in a Facebook post. She identifies herself as the “Khestriy Prabhari” of “Kanya Shakti Kranti” of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of BJP, and lives in Kanpur. Shivam Chhabra, the national media in-charge and spokesperson for BJP’s youth wing, said he did not know of Shalini Kapoor.

The rumour was also shared by academic and writer Madhu Kishwar, who has a large following on Twitter. At 12.04 am on Friday, she tweeted: “The names of the 5 people arrested for stone pelting a children’s school bus in the name of Karni Sena protesting against Bhansali’s movie are Saddam, Aamir, Feroze, Nadeem and Ashraf. IF ABOVE NEWS IS TRUE THEN IT SPEAKS VOLUMES. No more need to be said.” This was widely shared. Similar tweets were also issued by several fake Twitter handles.

Kishwar later deleted her tweet and issued an apology, thanking her friend who corrected her. She also said that she had been “in Chennai & missed out on news updates due to hectic schedule.” “My unconditional apology for misleading tweet. Big lesson for future. Wi be far more careful henceforth (sic).”

Despite the clarification issued by the police, the rumour kept spreading on social media till late evening on Friday. A Twitter handle @omparkashdahiya, which has over 4,000 followers on Twiiter, had also shared a picture circling two people on either sides of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal who he claims are the people who have attacked the bus. Another tweet was spreading with a same template which reads “Shadyantra hai (this is a conspiracy)” and then names the Muslims, asking media to clarify why Karni Sena is being blamed.

We have argued in the past that the law must deal sternly with those spreading rumours that have the potential to cause serious damage. In this particular case, the potential for mischief is obvious. Thankfully, the Gurugram police stepped in to clarify matters before things got out of hand. But police need to probe how this rumour was started and spread, and by whom. The fact that five specific names were being bandied about suggests that this was more than an innocent case of gossip acquiring a life of its own as ‘news’. Whoever created those names must have intended to foment trouble. Those people need to be identified and booked. Others who were recklessly irresponsible in spreading the rumours — including some well-known citizens — will hopefully check their facts before tweeting in future.

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