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Odisha Police on Sunday appealed to all sectors to stop spreading stories that give a communal spin to the quadruple railway tragedy in Balasore, in which at least 275 people perished and over 1,100 were injured.

This comes after Hindutva social media accounts attempted to cast the tragedy in an anti-Muslim light by erroneously stating that a mosque was nearby. Muslims were blamed for the accident, according to the Hindutva ecosystem. The Odisha police have warned that anyone detected spreading rumors to cause communal strife will face harsh legal consequences.

Odisha police said on Twitter, "It has come to our attention that some social media handles are mischievously giving a communal color to the tragic train accident at Balasore." This is quite unfortunate."

"We appeal to all concerned to refrain from disseminating such false and ill-motivated posts," it continued. Serious legal action will be taken against individuals who propagate rumors to cause community discord."

Hindutva handles published a drone image of the Odisha train disaster location and a small nearby structure, saying that it was a mosque and that the tragedy occurred on a Friday. On Saturday afternoon, the Twitter account @randomsena uploaded an image of the accident location with an arrow pointing to a white edifice with domes and the remark "Just saying...yesterday was Friday." This seemed to imply that the structure was a mosque and that Muslims were to blame for the tragedy. The tweet received roughly 4,500 retweets and four million views. This tweet was part of a thread in which he attempted to prove that the train disaster was a planned attack by Muslims. Alt News reports (Archive).

”Upon a closer examination of the spot from different angles, we found that the white structure seen in the viral image resembles a temple and not a mosque. The following image was used in a Reuters report titled, “Deadly Indian rail crash shifts focus from new trains to safety“. We reached out to journalist Tamal Saha who is currently at the spot of the accident in Bahanaga. He confirmed to Alt News that the structure near the accident was indeed a temple. Upon probing further, we found that the temple was the Bahanaga ISKCON temple. A YouTube video of the temple, uploaded five months ago shows that the structure is white and was under construction (although functional) at that time as well,” read the AltNews story.

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