Darbhanga land dispute falsely reported as case of forced religious conversion, viral with communal spin – Alt News


An incident from Muria village in the Bhalpatti police station area of Bihar’s Darbhanga has been making headlines. Two locals, Rajdhan Devi and Vicky Kumar, have claimed that they hail from the only Hindu family in the village, and were being pressured to convert to Islam. Kumar accused Mohammed Guddu and his five brothers, including Mohammed Laddu, of coercing them and also claimed that he was beaten by the accused and objectionable things were also thrown at his house. He complained to district magistrate Rajeev Roshan about the Muslim family barging inside his house, creating a ruckus, and harassing him. While speaking to Dainik Bhaskar, Vicky claimed that his house was being forcibly occupied by a group of Muslims.

Several Right-Wing influencers, propaganda websites and media outlets promoted the story.

Right-Wing influencer Roshan Sinha (@MrSinha_) tweeted a report by Zee Bihar Jharkhand and wrote that a member of the only Hindu family in a Muslim-dominated village of Darbhanga was being forced to convert to Islam. He added that the Muslim villagers were not even allowing him to perform religious activities. H quipped that this was bound to happen when Muslims became the majority in a place.

While sharing the report, Megh Updates, an account which shares misinformation on a regular basis, wrote that the lone Hindu family of Darbhanga was pressured by the Muslim community to convert to Islam and were told that if they wanted to live in the village, they had to become Muslims.

Right-Wing influencer Sunanda Roy also shared the report by Zee Bihar Jharkhand and wrote that a Hindu family in the Muria village of Darbhanga, Bihar was being pressured to convert to Islam or leave the village.

Similarly, Right-Wing propaganda website OpIndia, Hindu Post, The New Indian, and RSS mouthpiece Organiser promoted the claim. Zee Bihar Jharkhand, News18 Bihar, Times Now Navbharat also amplified the story.

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Fact Check

We found a press release shared on the official X handle of Darbhanga Police on February 4 which termed the viral claims as rumours and clarified that this was not a case of religious conversion, but of land dispute. The press release in the tweet clearly mentions that on being requested by Rajdhan Devi and her son Vicky Kumar of Muria village from Bhalpatti police station of Darbhanga, the district magistrate had issued an order to investigate the matter. In the investigation, it was revealed that the dispute was not religious but land related.

It originated when Rajdhan Devi wanted to open the door and window of her house on the north side, to which her neighbours objected. During investigation, the police found that there was a vacant plot of government land between the land of the applicant and the accused, which was the bone of contention. The land was surveyed by zonal officers who ruled that the government land should be used as a road, and rules should not be violated by either of the parties. Many residents from the village were present during this investigation, but no case of any kind of religious dispute had come to light in this entire episode.

We also found a ground report covering the incident on a YouTube channel named News Post Live. In the report, the correspondent interviewed a number of Hindus from the village regarding this matter of religious conversion, in which many women were also involved. The villagers clearly stated that there was never any pressure on them for religious conversion. This report also showed that Vicky Kumar’s family was not the only Hindu family in Darbhanga’s Muria village. We also found an interview of the complainant Vicky in another video on the same channel, in which he states that the house next to his belongs to a Hindu as well. In other words, the claim about the Kumars being the only Hindu family in the village is false. Several houses seen in the video are also decorated with Hindu flags.

We found a detailed report related to the incident on a YouTube channel named Bharat Uday Samachar. Vicky Kumar’s statement following the controversy is also shown here. He states that the dispute surrounding encroachment was resolved in the presence of officials. The report also features a statement by Darbhanga Sadar SDM Vikas Kumar in which he states, “On the instructions of the district officer, a joint investigation was conducted by myself and the SDPO on Friday. After this, the zonal officer told us that the 20 x 10 feet land was a government plot. The encroachment on the government plot was demolished by the Sadar SDM and SDPO in the presence of the zonal officer and a clear cut demarcation of the land belonging to both the parties was done. Instructions were given to them to work on their respective lands. Now, the problem has been 100% solved and this matter is not related to any religion.The claim about this being related to religious conversion is completely false. In fact, this matter is about a land dispute and nothing else. Now, it has been completely resolved.”

Alt News reached out to a local named Akil Ahmed for more information. He confirmed that this was a land dispute which had been going on between these two families for many years. Ahmed also revealed that the accused, Mohammad Guddu and Mohammad Laddu, were local strongmen and a number of altercations had broken out between the two families in the past. He confirmed that the matter had no religious angle, nor was any objectionable item thrown at the house of the complainant. According to him, Vicky had made such baseless claims to attract the attention of the media and top officials and to put pressure on the accused. He also rejected Vicky’s claim of being the only Hindu family in the village and said that there were many Hindu families in this village, some of them living just a few feet away from Vicky’s house.

When Alt News contacted Vicky, we were the land dispute was not being taken seriously. Officials became active only after footage of it was aired on national media channels. He added that recently, in the presence of many officials, the encroachment was removed from the disputed land and soon they would mark the boundary on it. If they fail to execute that without a hassle, they would go back to the national media channels. Kumar refused to comment when we asked him about the claims of forced religious conversion and other communal matters. He, however, told us that the statement of Darbhanga Police as completely factual. On the issue of being the only Hindu family in the village, Kumar revealed that there were both Hindu and Muslim homes near his house and many Hindu families lived a short distance away. This confirms that Vicky’s family is not the only Hindu family in the village.

To sum it up, a number of Right-Wing influencers, propaganda websites along with media outlets gave a communal spin to a matter of land dispute in Bihar’s Darbhanga.

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