In a 6 minutes and 42 seconds viral audio clip on social media, the speaker calls himself a resident of City Light Area in Surat and appeals to people asking them not buy vegetables from Muslim hawkers. He makes his audio message a communal issue, and claims that the hawkers are selling vegetables at low prices because their aim is to spread coronavirus. He then questioned that perhaps this incident may have something to do with people who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in Delhi and got infected with coronavirus in March. He further questions the low price of vegetables sold by Muslim hawkers.
In the audio the person says, “Today I saw a unique incident and because the corona virus disease is spreading so much, I request you to listen to the whole audio and take a decision accordingly if you feel it is right.” And further adds, “This morning, when I went out for a walk, I saw a unique development. Each crossing and by lane was filled with at least 15 to 16 three-wheeler tempos where Muslim boys were selling fruits and vegetables.”
The speaker further raises concern saying, “I have never seen them before. I have been staying here for the past seven to eight years.”
It was the first time Muslim boys were seen selling vegetables and fruits in a three wheeler tempo because corona virus is spreading. And for three or four days, I am watching the news that the Tablighi Jamaat does not want to live in the quarantine despite the Muslim community of Tablighi being Corona positive and want to run away from there. So a doubt arises whether they want to flee to the Hindu area and spread coronavirus epidemic amongst Hindu people. What I have seen today, I have never seen in eight years”.
We started the investigation by talking to ACP RR Sarvaiya of Surat, he told us that the claims made through viral audio clips on social media are false. “We arrested the person responsible for making this audio clip and broadcasting it on social media. The name of that person is Mukesh Ostwal and he has been booked under IPC 153 (A) and IPC 269, (with the intention of inciting riot and inciting enmity between groups based on caste, religion and place of birth), after which he was granted bail by the court. “
Apart from this, we found the news published by the Times of India on April 7th 2020, according to which the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) of Surat City Police arrested Mukesh Ostval, 49, a resident of Surya Complex on City Light Road, for creating and broadcasting an audio on WhatsApp. According to the police, Ostval is a native of Bhintgam in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan and has been booked for violation of restrictive orders issued in public notification and negligence under the Indian Penal Code. He has also been arrested under the National Disaster Management Act.
Conclusion: We found the above post wrong after checking the facts. Claims made through viral audio on social media are incorrect. A viral audio clip in which a person claims that Muslim vegetable and fruit vendors are spreading Coronavirus in Surat is completely false.
Title:The audio clip released in connection with Surat’s Muslim vegetable vendors is fake.Fact Check By: Aavya Ray