A week ago, on May 13, there were violent clashes in the Old City area of Akola in the Vidarbha region over a social media post over the movie ‘The Kerala Story’. This led to violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in which one person died and eight others, including cops, were injured.
Following this, Muslim men, especially labourers from six Muslim majority areas have reportedly fled their homes fearing rampant arrests by the police. Akola SP Sandeep Ghuge refused to comment on false cases being filed against the minority community members and the alleged exodus of these men, reported The Times of India. Even the District Collector denied such claims and said that these could be just rumours. While the SP claimed that these areas are deserted because of curfew, the Collector said that there was no curfew except section 144 was imposed between 8pm and 8am in the Old City area only.
A social worker from the Akot File area claimed that police were picking up Muslim men and booking them on murder charges. He claimed that areas apart from the Old City are witnessing this exodus including Sontakke Plot, Hamza Plot, Gudwale Plot and Khair Mohammad Plot.
A civic worker, while speaking to TOI said, “Cops are harassing innocent youths. My sister is a widow, four cops entered her home at Hamza Plot at 4am on May 13 and took both her sons aged 26 and 19.” He fled his home as he feared that he would also be implicated. Another person who fled his home, said that they were the ones pacifying the mobs and the police have apprehended some of them. He also claimed that police were beating up those arrested. “Our women and kids are living with whatever we have left behind. People are living in fear”.
The social activist from Mehmood Nagar also claimed that after the day of the incident, slogans were raised and stones were pelted in Muslim dominated areas. Further, when Muslims came out to protect themselves, cops arrested them. A girl’s hijab was allegedly snatched in Patur area, yet no action was taken by cops, reported TOI.
The violence erupted after a social media post linked to the movie insulted the Prophet. A crowd had gathered outside Ramdaspeth police station to register a complaint. When another group heard of this, they headed towards a nearby shrine and damaged property and vehicles which then led to a clash as the crowd turned into a mob of both communities. Over 147 persons were arrested in connection to this violence and over a 100 persons are believed to be from the Muslim community. Internet was also suspended which was later restored on Tuesday.