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Cops step in after social media target Muslims over Odisha train crash: ‘Just saying.. yesterday was Friday’

Odisha Police took note of the accident’s communalisation and said in a couple of tweets that some social media handles were mischievously giving a communal colour to the train accident

Rescue workers recover victims’ bodies from the carriage wreckage of a three-train collision near Balasore, in India’s eastern state of Odisha, on June 3, 2023. (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

While the kin of those who died and got seriously injured in the deadly triple-train crash in Balasore in the eastern Indian state of Odisha and the authorities were busy — either praying or restoring normalcy back on the tracks — the social media also witnessed a communal tone doing the rounds related to the tragedy.

On Friday (3), a day after the accident, a Twitter handle @randomsena (The Random Indian) posted a picture of the accident site with an arrow directed to a white building with a tomb and wrote “just saying – yesterday was Friday”.

WATCH: India railway minister prays after first train moves on restored tracks after Odisha crash

Soon, it triggered a debate as other users indicated that the highlighted structure was a mosque and it was a ‘jumma’ (Friday) when members of the minority Muslim community offer their weekly prayers — so Muslims might be involved in the crash.

Odisha train crash in PICS: Locomotive sits atop goods wagon, tireless rescue operations

The tweet garnered millions of views and several retweets as well.

However, @randomsena later deleted the tweet and said in another tweet, “In 2009, same train, Coromandel Express got derailed in Odisha, on a Friday. Same train, same state, same day. That’s what I meant by the ‘Friday’ reference but my tweet was misinterpreted by many. So, I’m deleting my tweet to put an end to all of this. But it was actually a Black Friday I tweeted after reading the Firstpost report & took this photo from twitter account.”

The second tweet was pinned.

Another tweet was posted from the same handle saying, “Balasore is a hub of illegal Rohingya Muslims”.

This post also received traction online and was viewed by several thousands. Later, it was said that the word Muslims was never used in the original tweet, sparking a controversy.

Fact-checking sites such as Boom and AltNews said the shrine mentioned in the tweet is a temple run by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Scroll reported, adding that Boom said its team looked into the images as well as footage from news agencies that showed that the structure was actually a temple.

The Twitter account of “Prof.N John Camm”, who claims to be a senior cardiologist based in Germany, tweeted “rail jihad”.

Several right-wing Twitter accounts also joined the chorus alleging “sabotage” and a “conspiracy” behind the accident that killed 275 people and left more than 1,100 injured.

The police of Odisha took note of the accident’s communalisation and said in a couple of tweets that some social media handles were mischievously giving a communal colour to the train accident and warned of severe legal action against those who are trying to create communal disharmony by spreading rumours.

 

This is not the first time that Muslims in India have been targeted for any tragedy. In 2020, charges of culpable homicide were brought against the chief of a Muslim seminary for holding an assembly in March that authorities blamed for a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

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