Did Gujarat Govt Officials Pledge to Boycott Muslim-Owned Shops?
A video of a group of people taking an oath to boycott shops owned by Muslims is circulating on social media. In the video, people can be heard saying in Gujarati, “હું હનુમાનજી મહારાજની સૂક્ષ્મ હાજરીમાં શપથ ગ્રહણ કરું છું કે આજથી મુસ્લિમ સમાજની એક પણ દુકાનેથી કોઈપણ ચીજવસ્તુની ખરીદી નહીં કરું ખરીદી નહીં કરું ખરીદી નહીં કરું (In the presence of Hanuman Maharaj, I take an oath that starting today, I won’t buy any goods from shops owned by members of the Muslim community. – translated)
CJ Werleman, who according to his Twitter bio is a columnist with Middle East Eye, tweeted the video suggesting that the group of people are government officials.
In a later tweet, Werleman added a clarification that the subjects in the video are members of the BJP.
This video and accompanying text was circulated by other social media users. Another Facebook Page, Musalmano Jaago aur Jagaao had shared this video with a message, “Gujrat main gujraati log kasam kharahe hai KE woh log aaj se musalmaan ki dukaan see maal nahi kharidenge.” It has been viewed more than 6,000 times.
Who Are These People?
We found a Facebook post condemning the boycott of Muslim shops which was posted byMuslim Ekta Manch Tasnim. In this post, they identify the members of the group as belonging to Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The post includes a formal letter written on the letter head ofMuslim Ekta Manch, Gujarat. In the letter, Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police was requested to probe and take necessary actions.
In conversation with Alt News, Imtiyaz Pathan, convener of the Muslim Ekta Manch said, “I had spoken to our friends in Bhavnagar. According to them, the man leading the group is Kirit Mistry, a VHP leader from Bhavnagar. Our members (Muslim Ekta Manch) have also identified a few more people in the group. I have submitted this letter to the Bhavnagar SP Pravin Mal, proposing it to be taken as a complaint and register an FIR on it.”
Confirming this, Mustufa K Kachaliya, chairman of the Congress Bhavnagar District Minority Department said, “The group includes people who are associated with Bharatiya Janata Party, Bajrang Dal, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The man leading the oath is a VHP member named Kirit Mistry.”
Furthermore, an article published by Sandesh Bhavnagar edition on 2 November 2018 reported, “Bhavnagar SP Pravin said that after the murder of Mahuva VHP president, a rally under the leadership of VHP by Bhavnagar VHP leader Kirit Mistry was organised. An application letter was given to the Talaja Mamlatdar and then people present in the rally took an oath to not buy any item from a shop owned by a Muslim. Hence asking people to economically boycott the Muslim traders.”
Alt News also contacted the Bhavnagar SP Pravin Mal to inquire about this incident. He said, “They have submitted an application and on basis of which DySP Mahuva is probing the matter. Prima facie, these are not the government officials according to the application.” Police are investigating the matter further.
Werleman’s initial claim about members of Indian government participating in the boycott is untrue. His clarification that they were BJP members is closer to reality as the group of people consisted of members of BJP and VHP, all of whom are part of the larger Sangh Parivar.