Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Three men from Mumbai, on their way to Surat to attend a funeral on Friday, 17 April, were pulled out of a car and beaten to death by villagers in Maharashtra’s Palghar district on suspicion of theft.
Now several videos of the incident are viral on social media with many of them being circulated with communal claims. One such claim was made by one Priya Upadhyay who said, “The killing of Hindu saints in papghar by Muslim mobs is murder of democracy. We need to be harsh with these tribes & communities who obstacling Police & their actions. (sic)”
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit identified one of the attackers as “Shoaib,” joining a widespread attempt to use this name as a means of communalising the incident.
This ‘Shoaib’ angle was justified by those claimed that people in the video are saying “Maar Shoaib maar,” while others claimed that “Bhaag Sohail bhaag” can be heard in the video.
LOCAL TRIBAL LANGUAGE HEARD IN THE VIDEO: POLICE
Speaking to The Quint, the PRO of Palghar SP Gaurav Singh said that the claims being made on social media are false and no such “maar Shoaib maar” slogans can be heard in the videos.
“They are not speaking in Hindi. They are speaking in local adivasi languages namely Varli and Konkani. There are no Muslims in the area,” he said.
On being questioned what exactly are the people saying in the video, he said, they are telling people to hit but nothing like “Shoaib” can be heard.
Further, we spoke to Brian Lobo, an activist with Kashtakari Sangathana and works in Dahanu Taluka in Palghar district. Kashtakari Sangathana is an organisation that works for the tribals in Maharashtra.
“There can be no man by the name of Shoaib in the village where the incident took place. It’s a completely tribal area and no Muslims live in the village,” he said.
He, too corroborated that Varli, Konkani and Marathi are spoken in the area.
AUTHORITIES DENY COMMUNAL ANGLE
We also spoke to Vikrant Deshmukh, Additional SP of Palghar, who denied any communal angle to the incident.
After the incident, the Palghar police arrested 110 people including nine minors. While the 101 adult accused have been remanded in police custody till 30 April, the minors have been sent to a juvenile home.
The PRO of Palghar SP Gaurav Singh told The Quint that the 110 people who have been arrested so far are all “Hindus.”
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday, 22 April, tweeted the list of names of the people who were arrested in the incident. “Especially sharing for those who were trying to make this a communal issue,” his tweet reads.
He had earlier mentioned that the religion of the attackers and attacked is the same. He had further said that the police is keeping a close eye on those who wanted to use this incident to create a rift in the society.
A police official, quoted by news agency PTI, identified the deceased as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavruksh Giri (70), Sushil Giri (35) their car driver Nilesh Telgade (30), all three hailing from Kandivali in north Mumbai. Two of the three victims were reportedly sadhus affiliated to a Varanasi akhara. Kalpavruksh Giri and Sushil Giri belonged to a Gosavi Nomadic Tribe and were affiliated to one ‘Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhara’ in Varanasi, according to The Wire.
(Update: The story has been updated with the list of names of the people who have been arrested in the incident)
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