Akola Riots: Social Media Post on ‘The Kerala Story’ Led to Communal Chaos, 1 dead

A motorcycle set on fire by miscreants during the communal clash in Maharashtra’s Akola city on Saturday.
A motorcycle set on fire by miscreants during the communal clash in Maharashtra’s Akola city on Saturday. Photo Credit: PTI

Maharashtra— As many as 147 people have been detained in Akola for allegedly taking part in the May 13 riots between two communities that resulted in one fatality. Since then, internet access has been suspended in the area by the authorities citing the law and order situation. Initially, riots started in Akola which then reached Ahmednagar also.

Of the arrests, 75 were made on Monday after police combed through surveillance material to find the individuals who carried out the violence on Saturday. On Saturday, there was a conflict between Hindus and Muslims over a social media post about the movie The Kerala Story.

According to media reports residents in the Old City neighborhood reported that police would not let them leave their houses, despite the fact that the city was quiet on Tuesday. There is a significant police presence.

Communal clashes have been on the rise in recent years. There have been discussions back and forth regarding the reasons for such violent ruckus and every time there are some or other reasons or things that ignite the fire between the communities.  

'The Kerala Story led to violence between two groups'

A social media post on the newly released film led to chaos in Maharashtra’s Akola district. According to the information received the Instagram post included some things about Prophet Mohammad which was offensive to the Muslim community. The Scroll reported, after a conversation between two people about a post got viral on social media, violence broke out in Akola.

According to Parag Kamble, the vice president of the Indian Youth Congress in Akola, "the two got into a fight over a chat in which one of them insulted the other's religion. The screenshots of this chat went viral within hours, and a huge crowd marched towards the police station in old Akola city demanding an FIR [first information report]."

The Indian Express report said that a portion of the mob had made the decision to march to the home of the individual who had posted. Stones were allegedly thrown as they were moving and that erupted fights between the two groups.

A motorcycle set on fire by miscreants during the communal clash in Maharashtra’s Akola city on Saturday.
Critically Analyzing Contrasting Narratives: The Reel vs Real Kerala Story

Before the offending post was removed, there were large-scale disturbances in which both communities threw rocks. In the vicinity of the Old City police station, several two- and four-wheelers were set on fire.

According to PTI, the police announced on Tuesday that the city's internet services had been restored and that the curfew had been loosened in some parts.

Sudipto Sen's film The Kerala Story purports to show how Kerala women were converted to Islam and enlisted by the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State. When challenged with evidence, the filmmakers changed their initial claim that 32,000 women from Kerala had joined the Islamic State to the statement that the video is a "compilation of the true stories of three young girls."

Dalit electrician killed in stone pelting between two groups

According to information received, Dalit electrician Vilas Gaikwad (40), who was returning home from work, died amid clashes and stone pelting between the two sides.

Vilas's family has his wife and two minor daughters. According to the information received from the police, Vilas died due to a serious head injury in the stone pelting between the two sides.

The state government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the family of the deceased. The Akola unit of BJP has also given a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to his family.

Controversy surrounding The Kerala Story

The Kerala Story has been in the news since the time of its release. Several states have made the movie tax-free while some have banned the film. In West Bengal, the film was banned by the Trinamool Congress Government citing that it may cause disharmony between the communities.

Even though the movie is now tax-free in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, there is still ongoing political outrage against it.

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, stated in response to the decision to forbid the film, "It is to avoid any incident of hatred and violence, and maintain peace in the state."

The Bengal CM also brought up the movie "Kashmir Files," which explored the purported genocide of Kashmiri Pandits and played to full theatres despite opposition protests. Its sole purpose was to degrade a certain group in society. The Kerala Story: What is it? It is a twisted tale.

A motorcycle set on fire by miscreants during the communal clash in Maharashtra’s Akola city on Saturday.
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