Around 147 persons have been arrested in connection with the communal violence in Maharashtra’s Akola city, Scroll has learnt.
The violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims on Saturday over a social media post related to The Kerala Story film.
Directed by Sudipto Sen, the movie claims to depict how women from Kerala were converted to Islam and recruited by the Islamic State terrorist group. The filmmakers had initially claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala had joined the Islamic State but when asked for evidence, they altered the trailer to state the movie was a “compilation of the true stories of three young girls”.
On Saturday, one person was killed and eight persons were injured in Akola. Internet was suspended and a curfew was imposed in some pockets of the city.
According to the Maharashtra Police, the violence in Akola was triggered after a chat between two individuals on social media regarding the post went viral.
“The two had an argument over a chat in which one of them insulted the other’s religion,” Parag Kamble, the vice president of the Indian Youth Congress in Akola, told Scroll. “The screenshots of this chat went viral within hours and a huge crowd marched towards the police station in old Akola city demanding an FIR [first information report].”
According to The Indian Express, a section of the crowd had decided to march to the home of the person who had put up the post. While they were going, stones were allegedly thrown and the two groups clashed.
On Tuesday, the police said that internet services were restored in the city and the curfew was eased in some areas, reported PTI.
On whether The Kerala Story led to the communal tensions, Superintendent of Police Sandeep Ghuge told Scroll: “We cannot correlate that as of now. There are different versions floating around and the police are investigating.”
Ghuge also said that the police have gathered evidence against the accused persons who are in custody in connection with the riots.
“Police are trying to reach to the root of the violence, including aspects like who were the instigators and their motive,” he added, according to PTI.
Nationalist Congress Party state chief Jayant Patil urged the Maharashtra home department to investigate whether recent incidents of violence follow any pattern or happened out of misunderstanding.
“The home department should look deeply into the frequent incidents wherein riot-like situations prevailed and take steps accordingly,” he said. “It should be thoroughly investigated.”
On Monday, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had claimed that “some organisations and people” want the state to be unstable. He added that the government “will teach them a lesson”.