Mysterious red crosses or ‘X’ signs were found marked outside 10 Muslim societies and Hindu colonies which triggered panic amongst the residents of these societies in Paldi area of Ahmedabad on Monday, November 13. This comes days after posters surfaced with the warning that the area would ‘become a Muslim ghetto’.

Alarmed residents of one of the societies, Delight Apartments, also targeted during the 2002 riots, have written to the Election Commission and the police commissioner, saying the markings had a clear purpose: to identify Muslim localities, reported the Times of India.

However, BJP has pointed an accusatory finger towards the opposition saying that they wanted to portray Gujarat as a hotbed of communal violence.

The crosses came three days after posters surfaced in the locality with the message, “Save Paldi from becoming a Juhapura”, a reference to one of India’s biggest Muslim ghettos. Red crosses were also spotted on the main gates of Aman Colony, Nasheman Apartment, Tagore Flats and Ashiyana Apartment.

However, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation officials have said that the marks were made by sanitary workers from where garbage had to be picked. But municipal commissioner Mukesh Kumar said the marks made by AMC workers were different from those spotted.

Zuber Ahmed of Aman Colony was reluctant to buy this argument. “We’re yet to be informed by the municipality that the marks were meant for garbage collection.”

Police chief A K Singh said the marks were indeed made by sanitation workers, but ordered an inquiry under special police commissioner KLN Rao. “If the houses are being marked as part of a garbage collection drive, we will send our teams to ensure that the residents are informed about it,” Singh added.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the Congress has lost its base in Gujarat and is thus resorting to petty politics to gain votes. Contradicting the BJP spokesperson, another BJP member IK Jadeja dismissed any political angle and said, “We inquired about the incident. AMC health workers who’d gone for health awareness marked buildings in red as their stock of stickers got exhausted. The corporation has issued instructions to only use stickers to avoid such confusion.”