Rajat Sharma

How rumours on social media are striking fear in the minds of Muslims

akb2910Pitched battles were fought between Muslim protesters and Delhi Police in northeast Delhi’s Seelampur area on Tuesday, but timely intervention by local Muslim leaders through announcements from mosques helped to control the situation within three hours. A peaceful procession had been planned to protest against the amended citizenship law, but suddenly miscreants in the mob resorted to pelting stones at the police.

Late in the evening, there was tension in Brijpuri too, but local Muslim leaders helped in restoring peace. We should welcome such measures by local leaders, but the overall picture that emerges is of a confused Indian Muslim.

The average Indian Muslim is confused because of baseless rumours and messages circulating on social media. Rumours are fuelling communal tension forcing Muslims to come out on the streets to protest and vandalize public property.

Most of the protesters do not even know what they are protesting against. There is nothing in the amended Citizenship Act that would affect Muslims in India. Rumours that are being spread about NRC (National Register of Citizens) are unfounded and baseless. NRC has not been implemented anywhere except Assam, then why these protests?

Miscreants join students and protesters to create mayhem and it is time that the protesters realize how they are being misused as a tool. There was not a single student among ten persons arrested for Sunday’s violence at Jamia Millia Islamia. They were locals and included three history sheeters who had indulged in crimes in the past.

Clearly, enemies of civil society are vitiating the atmosphere and baseless rumours about the need to prove one’s citizenship are being spread to strike fear in the minds of Muslims. Several political leaders are behind these elements who are circulating rumours.

The stone pelters whom India TV reporter spoke to on Tuesday openly said that they may be asked to provide documents to prove their citizenship even though their forefathers had been staying here for more than 70 years. Some of these stone pelters openly said that they feared they could be thrown into detention centres, while non-Muslims who do not have documents will not be affected because of CAA. Clearly, the rumour mill machine is working overtime.

The draft NRC notification is yet to be prepared, the Cabinet is yet to approve it and Home Minister Amit Shah has clearly said that not a single Muslim will have to worry about NRC. And yet, due to baseless rumours on social media, protests have taken place in Jamia Millia, Aligarh Muslim University, Lucknow, Kochi and now Delhi.

The government must take strong measures against people circulating false rumours on social media. It must be nipped in the bud before the virus spreads.

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