Security agencies struggled on Sunday to stop a relentless social media barrage, mostly from Pakistan, which tried to fan anti-India and pro-militancy sentiments in Kashmir Valley after the death of 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani .
Around 250 Twitter and Facebook accounts are apparently running the hate propaganda. But Jammu and Kashmir police and central agencies have not been able to get the better of them. As one account is blocked, another one pops up.
“Almost 60% of these Twitter handles and Facebook accounts are being run from Pakistan and other foreign countries,” said a senior home ministry official.
Mobile phone internet service has been blocked in the curfew-bound Valley as a precaution, preventing people from accessing the WhatsApp messenger service, which had been a preferred platform for hate-mongers to spread provocative messages during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh.
Internet service is usually suspended during trouble, for instance, the Patel stir for reservation in education and jobs in Gujarat, and the violence-marred movement in Haryana for Jat quota.
This is not the first time action is initiated against rouge Twitter and Facebook accounts. “We blocked around 300 accounts in the past six months,” said the official.
Hostile anti-India social media posts have exacerbated the unrest in Kashmir, where 19 people have died in two days of clashes with security forces after Hizbul poster boy Wani was shot dead on Friday.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and assured her all possible help. He reviewed the situation, meeting his top officials in New Delhi.
“Security forces were asked to maintain maximum restraint to avoid loss of civilian life,” the home ministry official said.
The home minister commanded the agencies to ensure safety of pilgrims who were left stranded as the annual Amarnath Yatra was suspended after Wani’s death.