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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Muzaffarnagar: Social networking sites adding fuel to fire

Rajesh Kumar Singh, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, September 09, 2013
First Published: 10:04 IST(9/9/2013) | Last Updated: 10:07 IST(9/9/2013)

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are keeping the cops on the tenterhooks in the communally charged western UP.

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The district administration, which has imposed curfew in Muzaffarnagar forcing the people to remain indoors, is at its wits end on how to check common people, members of social organizations and leaders of various political parties from using social networking sites, which in some cases are adding fuel to the fire.

Communal tension flared up in Muzaffarnagar after the murder of three persons on August 27.

Although the district administration managed to control the tension from spreading to other areas, fresh tension erupted in the area after the video of two boys being lynched by a mob was uploaded on YouTube.

The video was shared by 250 people on the Facebook forcing the district administration to clampdown on those sharing the video.

An FIR was lodged a g ainst one Shivam, who uploaded the video, as well as the BJP MLA from Sardhana Sangeet Som.

The video played a major role in fanning communal tension in the area, said IG (Crime) Ashish Gupta adding, “though FIR was registered it was obviously proving very difficult for the police to act against those using the social networking sites.”

The police had information that Whatsapp was also being used to share the video on the mobile phones, he said.

Incidentally, the incident depicted on the video was two years old and one that took place in a foreign country.

Police are simply without any clue how it was recalled and connected with the Muzaffarnagar riots.

On Sunday, the district administration officials urged the people not to share the video on the social networking sites.

Even the mobile phones are proving to be a major hurdle in controlling the violence.

Gupta said the police had information that bulk SMSes were being sent to spread the rumours.

“We cannot take action against the those sharing the SMSes or tell the mobile companies to close their services in the districts,” Gupta said expressing his helplessness.

A faculty in the department of sociology in Lucknow University, Rajesh Kumar Mishra, said there seemed to be a large conspiracy communalising the situation in Muzaffarnagar.

The state government should prepare a strategy for handling the social networking sites too, he said.


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