On the night of 24th March, 2016, a 40 year old Dentist, Dr Pankaj Narang, was beaten to death by a group of people in west Delhi’s Vikaspuri area. Reportedly, Dr Pankaj Narang scolded two men on a motorcycle when they brushed past his 8 year old son who was trying to retrieve a cricket ball. The two men returned later with a larger mob and dragged Dr Narang out of his house and beat him to death with sticks and rods.
The absolute horrific nature of the incident left many people shocked and the issue became a trending subject on social media. As news percolated that one of the two men on the bike was from the minority community, the narrative took a communal turn. Certain Twitter accounts and Facebook pages who are known to be avowed Modi supporters especially were at the forefront in giving this horrific murder a communal angle. The narrative that these Modi supporters aka Bhakts were trying to push was that mob which lynched Dr Narang belonged to the minority community and that the murder was a communal hate crime.
“The doctor’s son threw Holi color on some Muslim Kids. This was so insulting to the tolerant Delhi people that they lynched the doctor”.
Though Rahul later withdrew his tweet, many of those who support PM Narendra Modi on social media including those whom Mr Modi himself follows on Twitter continued to spread these dangerous rumours. Some of the tweets by people whom Mr Modi himself follows on Twitter can be seen here:
The issue became so serious that the Additional DCP (West) Ms. Monika Bhardwaj had to make a public statement on Twitter to quell the rampant rumours. She tweeted twice and stated:
Out of 9 accused person 5 r Hindu.At the moment of first scuffle, out of 2, 1 was Hindu.The Muslim accused r residents of UP ,not Bangladesh. 4 juveniles among 9 arrested for murder of vikaspuri doctor. No religious angle at all, as rumoured by some. We appeal u to maintain peace.
Soon enough, some of those who were spreading dangerous canards turned their scourge towards Monika Bhardwaj and she was at the receiving end of an online attack, with some of the tweets being highly sexist.
To stop the rumour-mongering, even Joint Commissioner Deepak Pathak made a media statement restating Ms. Monika’s assertions and reiterating the fact that the accused were from Uttar Pradesh and had no connection with Bangladesh.
Even a family member of Dr Narang had to state publicly that there was no communal angle to the issue after one of the pet pages of many Modi Fans on Facebook – ‘The Frustrated Indian’ wrote a twisted account of the incident.
However, even these clarifications by two senior police officials and family members of the victim themselves did not deter certain Modi followers who started trending the hashtag #IllegalBangladeshiMuslims on Twitter while suggesting that those who lynched Dr Narang were Illegal Bangladeshis. Again, this included people whom Mr Modi himself follows on twitter including the following two Twitter accounts:
Thus continues the unfortunate saga of BJP Social Media supporters spreading doctored videos, photoshopped images, rumours and communal canards at every possible opportunity, whether it’d be JNU or Malda or Dr Narang’s murder.