The district magistrate took down his Facebook post after being trolled and abused online, but has said that he stands by his statement.
New Delhi: A Facebook post by the district magistrate (DM) of Bareilly following the communal violence that broke out in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj on Republic Day has created a flutter. In the post, DM Raghvendra Vikram Singh has blamed provocative slogan-shouting for sparking the clashes, leaving one person dead. Singh’s posts were, however, unavailable on his Facebook profile on Tuesday morning, after he was trolled, abused and threatened online.
Expressing his anger in a Facebook post on Sunday, Singh said it had become a “trend” for people to “forcefully enter Muslim-dominated localities, raise anti-Pakistan slogans and then create a ruckus,” reported the Times of India.
“Ajab rivaz ban gaya hai. Muslim mohallo me jabrdasti julus le jao aur Pakistan murdabad ke nare lagao. Kyon bhai, ve Pakistani hain kya? Yehi yahan Bareilly mein Khailam mein hua tha. Fir patharav hua, mukadme likhe gaye… (A very strange trend has started of late. Take out processions by force through Muslim-dominated localities and raise anti-Pakistan slogans. Why? Are these people Pakistani? The same thing had happened in Khailam village of Bareilly. Then stones were pelted, FIRs lodged).”
In another post, the Bareilly DM asked why slogans were never raised against China, “a bigger enemy”. He wrote, “Cheen to bada dushman hai, tiranga lekar Cheen murdabad kyon nahin? (China is a bigger enemy to us. Why isn’t the tricolour being waved and anti-China slogans shouted)?”
Singh goes on to say that fringe elements were destroying the social fabric of the nation, “Such fringe groups are coming up in every part of the state, taking the same ugly route to instigate people of the minority community by forcefully entering their locality in the name of nationalism. These people don’t care about the fabric of our mixed culture and brotherhood,” the Times of India report said.
The DM has now deleted the post, saying that he only meant to initiate an “academic discussion” and that it had taken a “different turn”.
“While there is no doubt that Pakistan is our enemy, Muslims of India are our brothers, our blood. Our DNA is same. It is our duty to promote harmony and unity in society,” he wrote in a new post.
Singh told the Times of India that nobody asked him to remove the post. “I apologise if some sentiments were hurt by what I said, but there is no denying that our secular ethos is at stake; there are things which need to be protected at all cost… Though there is no denying that Pakistan is our enemy, there is also no denying that Indian Muslims are our brothers and we share the same DNA,” he told the newspaper.
Earlier, on January 25, the DM had expressed his surprise at what the “whole fuss” around Padmaavat was about. He wrote, “I belong to the same community as these people who are protesting against the film. What is this nonsensical argument that we will lose if the movie is released?”
The clashes on January 26, as reported in the media and supported by video evidence, took place when a group of bikers owing allegiance to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, carrying saffron flags and the tricolour, entered a Muslim-dominated area where preparations for Republic Day celebrations were on. As reported, the clashes broke out when the ABVP bikers allegedly insisted on right of passage, asking the local organiser to remove the chairs.
UP finance minister and Bareilly City MLA Rajesh Agarwal supported Singh. “I have not read the comment posted by DM Bareilly yet,” he told the Hindustan Times, adding “But considering he is a former Army officer, I can say he will never say anything against our country or in favour of Pakistan.”
Singh’s Facebook post is the second embarrassment for the Adityanath-led BJP government after governor Ram Naik described the communal violence triggered by an unauthorised rally in Kasganj as a “matter of shame” and a “blot” on the state.
Fake news, too, added its bit to the boiling communal cauldron in Kasganj. Altnews.in said false news was being spread that apart from Chandan Gupta, another youth, Rahul Upadhyay, 24, had been killed in the violence. The “missing” man had to approach the police on Monday to deny reports of his death. Among those spreading fake news through tweets was a senior editor of an English Daily, reported Altnews.in.
Upadhyay was declared dead by some “rumour mongers” on social media, according to police. The “news” was picked up and carried in a number of newspapers.
The 24-year-old media graduate from Noida, who now runs a small news outlet, received a phone call on Saturday, asking him if he was dead. “At first, I was surprised and thought someone was joking. Then I received another call and then another. That is when I realised something was wrong.” Upadhyay told the Indian Express.