Ahead of upcoming elections in Gujarat, panic was spread across Ahmedabad that mysterious ‘red marks’ had appeared in some colonies in Muslim dominated localities. Many media houses reported that panic had gripped the city over these ‘red crosses’ which were allegedly put up to ‘identify’ the residents of those colonies. Many also added fuel to fire by reporting “Nazi-type” vermillion crosses spotted on Ahmedabad’s minority houses.
Self-styled social activist Teesta Setalvad, who is accused of embezzling the donation money received for 2002 riot victims, also filed a complaint with the Election Commission claiming that these marks have come up exclusively in Muslim localities. Teesta, through her publication Sabrang, fanned panic by claiming “the marking makes it easy to identify Muslim homes in different neighbourhoods and in turn makes it easy to target Muslim residents.”
— Sabrang (@sabrangindia) November 13, 2017
The mainstream media and fringe elements like Teesta made it appear that the ruling BJP, which was in power during the 2002 riots took place in Ahmedabad with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat, is trying to give the upcoming elections a communal flavour.
They also claimed posters were put up to ask residents of an area in Ahmedabad, Paldi, to make sure it doesn’t turn into another Juhapura, a predominantly Muslim ghetto. Reading these two together would make one believe that some anti-social elements are trying to give communal flavour to the elections.
But truth is far from this perceived hate towards Muslims.
It turns out the marks were made by Amdavad Municipal Corporation (AMC) as part of the civic body’s garbage collection project. Chirag Shah, deputy health officer of AMC said these marks were ‘point of interest’ which will be then given stickers to install GPS system to track the drivers of AMC to see whether they are collecting garbage or not. The stickers will be put up in upcoming days at the points identified by the corporation adding that such marks were put up at Hindu colonies as well.
Twitter users and residents of Ahmedabad also pointed out how the report by Times Now conveniently left out the part where the reporter says that the marks were placed even outside Hindu colonies.
These marks are painted by garbage collectors working for the municipal corporation (it is confirmed by them). Times Now not once mentioned that (fact) but busy shouting “Maut ka Saudagar” and trying to scare Muslims (sensationalism/agenda?) #modimalignedin2017
— Mihir Ved (@itsmihir1993) November 13, 2017
But by then, fear mongering was at its peak on social media.
— Tanveer Mansuri (@tanveermansuri) November 13, 2017
Today all Muslim societies in Paldi have been marked with a big Red Cross with paints.Similar incident had happened when the Gujarat riots has taken place few years back. Houses were marked with Red Cross.What does it means? @DeepalMirror @tv9gujarati @BharatSolankee @ahmedpatel pic.twitter.com/mBmWcMNpK4
— Rakesh Goswami (@rakeshchaki) November 13, 2017
Serial offender when it comes to lying, leftist propaganda website The Wire also tried to spread panic.
— Karnika Kohli (@KarnikaKohli) November 16, 2017
At a time when Gujarat Elections, which is believed to be the curtain raiser for 2019 General Elections, is just around the corner, this shameless lying and propaganda does not really come as a surprise.