Two rumours led to the residents of Haldwani in Uttarakhand to get out on the streets during a nationwide lockdown and protest against health workers visiting the area to collect samples from an Imam of a local mosque.
BOOM spoke to local police who said that rumours were spread over WhatsApp and through word-of-mouth among the residents of Banbhoolpura area in Haldwani - a city in Nainital district.
"The first said the Imam was being arrested and taken away from the district and locked away somewhere far," Senior Superitendent of Police, Haldwani, Sunil Kumar Meena told BOOM.
"This created panic among the residents because he is a local religious leader."
Meena further added that a second rumour started a few hours before health workers reached the area.
"The second piece of fake messages said that a policeman had come to the mosque in the morning and kicked the door repeatedly. This made the locals very angry."
On Sunday, residents of Banbhoolpura area took to the streets when a team of medical workers reached to collect samples and also quarantine an Imam from the mosque who is said to have come in contact with a few COVID-19 positive patients. According to the police, the locals created a ruckus and did not let health workers come close to the masjid or the Imam.
Banbhoolpura in Haldwani, Uttarakhand has been declared a hotspot by the authorities after the area saw seven people testing positive after they attended the Tablighi Jamaat event.
Videos of the incident have gone viral with a narrative of Muslims deliberately disobeying the lockdown order.
While whole India obeys @narendramodi ji on #Lockdown2 here somewhere in Uttrakhand eslamists floit all rules to move in a mob..— Ritu (सत्यसाधक) #EqualRightsForHindus (@RituRathaur) April 14, 2020
Why should we pay a price for them?
Donating our hard earned money?@amitshah pic.twitter.com/2UVWPU9sFv
In addition, five people who are admitted in a Muradabad hospital after testing positive are also residents of Haldwani. "We have completely sealed the area and are running tests of everybody who came in contact with the positive tested patients. We currently have 15 cases and are running tests on several people,"said SSP, Haldwani, Sunil Kumar Meena.SSP Meena dismissed allegations online of the health workers being beaten up. "Nobody was attacked, abused or beaten - including the police or the doctors," he said.
He added that the Imam himself spoke to the residents. "He (Imam) told the residents that he was not being taken away and would be quarantined in his house itself in the premises of the masjid. Hearing the Imam speak and reassure them convinced the residents".
Meena added that the issue was being communalised only outside of Haldwani. "Everybody who stays here knows what happened and does not believe in the communal angles. We cannot do much when Twitter and Facebook posts of people who had nothing to do with the issue paint and exaggerated communal picture."
Updated On: 2020-04-17T15:45:45+05:30