False claim: Muslims perpetrating violence in the garb of Kanwar Yatra pilgrims

Arrested Kanwariyas turned out to be Muslim guys who dressed up as Kanwar and tried to malign Hindus by committing violence“. A message is being shared on social media claiming that Muslim men dressed up as Kanwar Yatris and perpetrated violence. Earlier this week, violence perpetrated by Kanwar Yatra pilgrims was reported from across states in North India.

On August 9, Prashant Patel Umrao put out a tweet at four in the morning, claiming that Muslims are “doing violence in many places to defame Kanwar Yatra.” He attached a Dainik Jagran article titled “Two Muslim youth dressed as Kanwariyas caught by police” and added that real pilgrims cannot perpetuate violence against innocent civilians. His tweet implied that Muslims are responsible for the recent violence ensuing Kanwar Yatra. It attracted over 2,600 likes and more than 2,300 retweets.

Minutes after Umrao’s tweet, Squint Neon made out a similar tweet at 4:35 AM. Just a few hours later, ShankhNaad also tweeted that the recent violence is an attempt to “demonise” Kanwariyas.

An identical claim was made by Abhishek Mishra who in his Twitter bio describes himself as “social media advisor” of VHP. He tweeted that there are attempts to malign the reputation of innocent Kanwariyas.

The sentiment “Muslims are disrupting peace during Kanwar Yatra” was also echoed by several others across social media platforms.

What is the truth behind the two Muslim youth wearing clothes of Kanwar Yatra pilgrims? 

If one reads past the title of the Dainik Jagran article, it says that the two Muslim youths told the police had they had gone to Bhagwanpur to meet their friend Shivam. While returning, they bought two bhagwa (orange) scarves and wrapped it around themselves to resemble the other pilgrims. They claimed to do so to avoid being stopped by the police on the way back. However, their motorcycle hit a constable hence, they were detained. The one riding the bike was arrested by the police. The incident occurred in Saharanpur area of Uttar Pradesh.

Alt News contacted Saharanpur SSP Upendra Kumar Yadav who told as that both the youths have been released. “The boys were riding a bike when the accidentally hit a constable. For this reason, we had to take them into custody. During the enquiry, they told us that somebody asked them to wear bhagwa scarves because the road would be jammed during the yatra and it would be easier for them to commute if they looked like Kanwariyas.”

When asked if they were involved in any sort of violence, the SSP denied and said that the youths were only trying to move past the crowd quickly but unfortunately hit a constable by mistake. A complaint was registered on their names but both have been released now.

A misleading, divisive tweet from Prashant Patel Umrao is no longer a matter of surprise. Alt News has chronicled his trysts with disinformation several times in the past. Claims of individuals known for circulating misinformation on social media should never be taken at face value.

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