A 28-year-old man named Loten Nishad from Bakshi Morha village of Prayagraj district in Uttar Pradesh was killed by a group of neighbours on 5 April.
On the statement of his brother Birju and preliminary investigation, the police booked six to seven unidentified and 10 identified accused, namely Sadiq, Sebu, Zakir, Noor Akhtar, Naushad (two accused are named Naushad), Shadaab, Farooq, Naushad and Farhan.
As per Birju and other eye-witnesses, the Muslim men killed Loten in revenge after a member of the Nishad community commented that leaders of Muslim organisation ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ have spread Covid-19 virus across India.
The communal killing created tension in the area and heavy police force had to be deployed. On the directions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the accused have been booked under National Security Act.
The news was picked up by a number of publications. Several journalists posted the news on social media, along with videos of the gory killing.
The Twitter account of Prayagraj Police soon went on a spree responding to such journalists.
The apologists of minority extremism, however, are misinterpreting the police’s response and misleading their followers into believing that the murder had no communal motive.
Here’s how it unfolded:
When the local media first broke the news, the Prayagraj Police Twitter handle, @prayagraj_pol, responded to the verified Twitter handle of IS Range Prayagraj saying that the case is being investigated by police officials.
Within minutes, the account, @prayagraj_pol, posted a video of Prayagraj Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) giving a byte to news channels. The SSP is heard saying that a spat broke out between a Hindu and a Muslim group while they were reading newspaper together. The SSP says the accused is one Sonu.
The police’s handle then began to respond to every user, who posted the news, with a tweet that read (as translated), “FIR number 127/2020 registered at Kareli police station. Eight people arrested. No information regarding the association of the deceased’s or the accused’s side with Tablighi Jamaat has come to light. Investigations are being carried out.”
If one looks closely, the police are only stating that the accused do not belong to Tablighi Jamaat. The police are not denying that the motive of the crime was a comment made by the Hindu side against Tablighi Jamaat.
It’s not known why the police even came up with this clarification, given that none of the users that the police responded to alleged accused’s association with the Tablighi Jamaat in the first place.
Let’s look at some of the tweets that the police replied to:
Journalist Deepak Chaurasiya tweeted that a man in Prayagraj was killed for commenting on the Jamaat.
Did Chaurasiya claim that the accused were associated with the Jamaat? No. The police clarified anyway.
Journalist Vikas Bhadauria tweeted that Mohammad Sona and his associate killed Loten Nishad for commenting on the Jamaat.
Did Bhadauria claim that the accused were associated with the Jamaat? No. The police clarified anyway.
Journalist Gaurav Singh Sengar put out the remaining part of the SSP’s byte to the media, where he is heard saying that eye-witnesses indeed told him that the trigger for the murder was the comment on Tablighi Jamaat.
Interestingly, the SSP’s byte earlier posted by Prayagraj Police handle had cropped out this part.
Did Sengar claim that the accused were associated with the Jamaat? No. The police clarified anyway.
And on and on it went, until the apologists of minority extremism began to misuse the police’s clarification tweet and mislead their followers.
A columnist with the portal Theprint.in, Zainab Sikander, went on to falsely call the case as ‘fake news’. Sikander had earlier amplified misinformation that Muzaffarnagar Police ‘raped’ minor boys in Sadat madrassa. An FIR (first information report) was later registered by a madrassa teacher against the false allegations on the police by the media.
Actor Sushant Singh too announced that there is “no communal angle” in Nishad’s murder and misled his followers on what the police actually said.
Radio jockey Sayema too called the news of Nishad’s murder as ‘fake news’ by, again, misleading her followers about the content of the police’s tweet.
Journalist Marya Shakil too did the same.
And on and on it went. The apologists continue to whitewash the clear communal motive behind Nishad’s murder.
To know further about the case, read this detailed report by Swarajya.
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