A video of hoardings attributing communal statements to prominent Muslim names recently emerged on social media. They were installed on the boundary wall of Uttar Pradesh-based TP Inter College in Kunda, Pratapgarh. According to a media report, the banners were installed on the night of August 12.
The hoardings show images of AIMIM leader and MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, 13th Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid, Azam Khan, founding member of the Samajwadi Party, Noor ur Rahman Barkati, former Shahi Imam in Kolkata and Zakir Naik, controversial Islamic cleric.
A user posted a video of police surrounding the banners and alleged that these were installed by Muslims.
ईद के पहले साम्प्रदायिक सौहार्द बिगाड़ने का प्रयास*उत्तरप्रदेश जिला प्रतापगढ़ कुंडा मुस्लिमो ने लगाए आपत्तिजनक पोस्टर**जागो हिन्दुओ जागो**देखलो अब इन लोगो को योगी बाबा का भी ख़ौफ़ नही रहा🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/wGJRZiO4Hp
— योगी योगेश अग्रवाल (धर्मसेना) (@yogeshDharmSena) August 13, 2021
A cropped photo of the banners attributing quotes to Naik, Barkarti and Bukhari is being circulated on WhatsApp. Alt News received over a dozen requests on its WhatsApp helpline number (76000 11160).
On August 12, Pratapgarh police tweeted a video and stated that objectionable hoardings were installed by “mischievous elements” in the Kunda area.
जनपद प्रतापगढ़ के थाना क्षेत्र कुण्डा अन्तर्गत कस्बा कुण्डा में कुछ शरारती तत्वों द्वारा आपत्तिजनक होर्डिंग लगाए जाने के प्रकरण में की जा रही कार्यवाही के संबंध में पुलिस अधीक्षक प्रतापगढ़ द्वारा दी गई बाइट। pic.twitter.com/YKzUjFTAN5
— PRATAPGARH POLICE (@pratapgarhpol) August 12, 2021
Alt News spoke with SP Pratapgarh Satpal regarding the incident. He said, “There have been no arrests and the investigations are ongoing. However, FIR has been filed against unknown persons under the Indian Penal Code section 153 A [Promoting enmity between different groups] and other relevant sections.”
Thus, the claim that members of the Muslim community installed the banners is baseless. It must also be pointed out that the banners carry statements such as “Hindu festivals should be prohibited”, “Muslims will demolish temples”, “Hindus should evacuate areas where Muslims are in majority”. It is improbable that Muslims will install such banners to draw negative attention to the community.
Alt News analysed the quote attribute to each individual and found these were shared on right-wing pages and BJP supporters on Facebook in the past. But more crucially, there aren’t any reports that corroborate any of the provocative statements.
AIMIM leader and MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi
The hoarding alleges that Akbaruddin Owaisi said that since the Muslim population in Hyderabad city has crossed over 50%, Hindu festivals should be prohibited. As per the 2011 census, the percentage of Hindu and Muslim population in Hyderabad city is 64.93 % and 30.13 % respectively. Thus, the statement itself carries disinformation.
Incidentally, the same quote was attributed to Asaduddin Owaisi, President of the AIMIM and brother of Akbarudin Owaisi, in 2016 on Facebook.
Alt News reached out to Asaduddin Owaisi. He said that the statement is “completely false and a load of white lies”. He also said that a complaint will be filed with the cyber cell.
Syed Ahmed Bukhari, 13th Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid
According to the hoarding, Bukhari said that Hindus should leave UP, Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Hyderabad because the Muslim population is in majority in these states. He is portrayed as warning Hindus of the fate of Kashmiri Pandits if they do not leave. However, none of the mentioned states have Muslims in the majority according to the 2011 census.
Alt News spoke with Shaban Bukhari, son of Syed Ahmed Bukhari. “My father has not made this statement. In the past, many false quotes have been attributed to him. We plan to file a police complaint after August 15,” he said.
Posts from 2017, attributing a similar quote to Syed Ahmed Bukhari, was found on Facebook.
Azam Khan, founding member of the Samajwadi Party
In February 2020, Khan was sent to jail along with his wife and son for allegedly forging a PAN card to show his son’s false date of birth to enable him to contest the 2017 assembly elections from the Suar constituency in Rampur. Bail was granted to his wife and son in December 2020 and August 2021 respectively.
The hoarding claims that Khan said Muslims will boycott Vande Mataram because in Islam secularism and nationalism are prohibited.
Just like the previous posts, we found these quotes on right-wing pages on Facebook. They date as far back as 2013.
Noor ur Rahman Barkati, former Shahi Imam in Kolkata
Barkati is one of the more controversial individuals on the list. As per the hoarding, he said that Muslims will continue to slaughter cows and that Muslims aren’t fearful of any authority because the community’s population has increased. “We don’t argue like Hindus, we just kill,” the quote further states.
After a keyword search on Facebook, we found that the quote was shared multiple times and dates back to 2012.
Readers should note that in 2010, Barkati indeed said that Muslims will continue to sacrifice cows. However, the banner has exaggerated his statement. He did not suggest that opposing Hindus will be murdered.
Zakir Naik, controversial Islamic cleric
Naik is the most controversial individual on the list who is currently in exile from India. There are two quotes attributed to him. As per one of them, Naik allegedly said that Hindus chant of Hindi-Muslim unity due to fear of Muslims who ruled India for 1100 years. The other claims that Naik said India can easily be converted into an Islamic nation.
The first quote was posted on Facebook multiple times and dates back to 2014.
The other quote was found on multiple Facebook posts from 2020 with the same text and image as seen on the hoarding.
While plenty of controversial statements made by Zakir Naik have been reported in the media, Alt News did not find the statements adorning the banner.
To sum it up, six hoardings with false, provocative statements were installed in UP’s Pratapgarh and attributed to Muslim leaders and controversial figures. UP police are yet to identify the individuals behind the act, but premature remarks blame the Muslim community. As per Alt News’s research, the quotes were found to be circulating on right-wing pages and profiles of BJP supporters on Facebook years before they made it to the boundary wall of TP Inter College.
[This article will be updated if and when UP police makes arrests in the matter.]
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