Few right-wing groups, and the local traders’ body in Uttarakhand’s Agastyamuni town, on Friday, vandalised upto 15 shops owned by Muslim traders in the town, after a fake video was shared on social media along with statements alleging that a 10-year-old Hindu girl had been raped by a Muslim man in the town.
Atleast 2,000 persons gathered near the police station at Agastyamuni, on Friday morning, demanding justice for the alleged rape victim. Simultaneously, upto 15 shops of Muslim traders were vandalised by the agitators, including people from the town’s traders’ body, a local students’ group Jai Ho, and members of the ABVP.
“The shops (of Muslim traders) were emptied, and the materials in them, including mobile phones, watches, clothes, and vegetables, were thrown onto the streets and burnt by the agitating groups. However, no one was hurt,” Tripti Bhatt, who currently holds the charge of Rudraprayag district’s Superintendent of Police (SP), said.
After the vandalism, Rudraprayag district magistrate Mangesh Ghildiyal posted a video on social media clarifying that the video that was going viral over social media was “fake”.
“The faces of the people in the video are not clear. Neither the man nor the woman in the video has been identified. Also, we have not received any complaint of a rape in Agastyamuni. We are searching for the people who have been spreading fake news of rape over social media…strict action will be taken against them,” Ghildiyal said in the video.
Agastyamuni falls on the way to the Kedarnath shrine at 70 kilometres from the shrine, and for the locals the incident was the first ever communal incident in the town that they had ever witnessed.
Gajendra Rautela, an Agastyamuni local said, “Agastyamuni has a small Muslim population. Many Muslim traders whose shops were vandalised have been born and brought up in Agastyamuni… I had not witnessed any communal incident in the town until today (Friday). What happened today was shocking.”
After the incident FIRs were registered in the Agastyamuni police station against the people who vandalised public and private property, and against people spreading the fake video on social media.
“Few people were arrested (on Friday), and many are yet to be traced,” Bhatt said.