On April 16, three men were lynched by an armed mob near Gadchinchale village, which comes under the jurisdiction of Kasa Police in Maharashtra’s Palghar district. Three days later, videos of the incident on social media were amplified with the insinuation that the crime was a communally-motivated one that had been committed by members of the Muslim community.

One video of the gruesome incident was tweeted by some individuals with the claim that the mob can be heard saying, “Maar Shoaib Maar” or Hit them, Shoaib, hit them.

Film director Ashoke Pandit twice claimed on social media that one culprit involved in the incident is “Shoaib”, a typically Muslim name.

Suresh Chavhanke, the editor-in-chief of the Hindi television channel Sudarshan News, also claimed that he is able to hear the word “Shoaib” in the video.

Richa Pandey Mishra of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi media cell tweeted the video with the text, “Hit Shoaib Hit, Kill them.” Similar tweets by handle Yana Mir and This Posable garnered close to 2,700 retweets combined. A Facebook page titled Our India posted the same video with a similar communal narrative. It has been shared more than 2,200 times.

An image of the dead men was also shared on social media with a graphic that accuses “the goons of Christian missionaries” for the attack.

No mention of Shoaib

After listening to several videos of the same incident taken from different angles, Alt News found that the men are saying, “Bass oye bass” or Stop hey stop. In the video posted below, the same can heard. Thus, the claim that one of the perpetrators involved in the incident was Shoaib is baseless.

No communal angle

Maharastra’s Home Minister took to Twitter to say that he incidient did not have a communal element and that the accused people and the victims were not from different faiths.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also ruled out any communal angle in the incident and said that it had occurred as rumours were doing the rounds about thieves roaming in the area.

The incident took place on the night of April 16 when three men were attacked by a mob of local tribals near Gadchinchale village. They were reportedly on their way from Mumbai’s Kandivili area to Silvassa to attend a funeral when they were stopped by a vigilante group of locals that had been formed to patrol during the night. The mob questioned the men, who were travelling in a van. They threw stones at them and later beat them with sticks. The police have detained over 100 people and nine minors in connection with the lynching.

Alt News reached out to the public relations officer of the Palghar police who reiterated that there was no communal angle to the incident. The accused and victim are both from the same faith, the officer said. The accused people belong to the tribal community.

“There was a rumour circulating in the area and the police had also issued a message regarding it,” the officer said. There were reportedly rumours about migrants robbing tribal villages in Palghar district.

Palghar SP Gaurav Singh told The Indian Express that the investigation into the incident has so far focused on identifying the sources of the rumours spread in the village.

Days before the incident, four police personnel were injured in an incident where the SUV of a skin specialist Dr Vishwas Walwi of Thane was destroyed by a mob at Saarni village. “At least 250 people had attacked them when Dr Walwi was returning home after distributing food grains and conducting a small door-to-door thermal screening of tribals,” said the Hindustan Times on April 17.

Prominent social media users like Suresh Chavhanke and Ashoke Pandit attempted to give the incident a communal colour by claiming that the men involved in the lynching were members of the Muslim community. The accused and victims both hail from the same religion. There is no communal angle to the incident.

This article was first published on Alt News.