Balrampur Puja Procession Violence Pre-Planned? Cops Deny Claims
Misleading reports suggesting a ‘muslim mob’ pre-planned an attack on Durga Puja procession have surfaced on the internet. 
Misleading reports suggesting a ‘muslim mob’ pre-planned an attack on Durga Puja procession have surfaced on the internet. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Altered by The Quint)

Balrampur Puja Procession Violence Pre-Planned? Cops Deny Claims

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As the 10-day Durga Puja festival came to an end with devotees across the country bidding farewell to Goddess Durga, an incident has come light from Uttar Pradesh’s Balrampur district where clashes broke out between two groups during a Durga Puja procession.

CLAIM

Various media outlets including right wing website, OpIndia and news daily Punjab Kesari reported the incident.

The two publications attributed the following information to the Balrampur Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) –“The attack on the Visarjan procession might not have been spontaneous and the Muslim community may have been prepared with stones from before, in wait of the procession.”

Screenshot of OpIndia report.
Screenshot of OpIndia report.
(Source: OpIndia)
Screenshot of Punjab Kesari report
Screenshot of Punjab Kesari report
(Source: Punjab Kesari)

Since then the video of the incident has gone viral on various social media platforms and is being massively shared.

(Source: Twitter)

Swati Goel Sharma, a journalist with Swarajya magazine, also quoted from the OpIndia report and shared the video.

Screenshot of tweet
Screenshot of tweet
(Photo: Twitter/Swati Goel Sharma)

An OpIndia reporter also released an audio recording of her conversation with the ASP in which the officer can be heard saying, “They went ahead playing music following which there was a clash. People tried to explain it to them. They were already prepared or whatever it is, they started pelting stones. Everything happened hurriedly and after this the idol was taken for immersion.”

WHAT’S THE TRUTH?

The Quint got in touch with the Additional SP of Balrampur Police who denied giving any such statement and told us that that the incident happened in Balrampur on Tuesday, 8 October while a Durga Puja procession was crossing a mosque.

Mishra said, “The procession was crossing the mosque and was expected to switch off the music, but that did not happen. This angered the Muslim and triggered clashes between the two communities.” He further added that the police has arrested eight people in connection with the violence.

ASP Mishra categorically denied saying that the clashes were ‘pre-planned’. The Quint has also accessed a copy of the FIR which stated that a case was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 147 (Punishment for rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapon) among others.

The Police further said that the situation is under control and an investigation into the matter is currently underway.

After speaking to The Quint, Balrampur Police also issued a clarification on its Twitter handle regarding the same.

Screenshot of Police clarification on the claim
Screenshot of Police clarification on the claim
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The Quint spoke to the police officer again on Thursday who once more denied making any such statement.

Further Balrampur police took to Twitter to clarify that the police is taking all the necessary steps to ensure law and order.

We also spoke to a local journalist who said that the clashes broke out between the two sections when the procession allegedly didn’t stop the loud music and splashed colours while crossing the mosque. But it remains unclear as to who instigated the violence.

(This copy has been updated to incorporate OpIndia’s and The Quint’s phone conversation with the Balrampur ASP.)

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