The police force in Mumbai and its social media lab went into an overdrive ahead of the hanging of 1993 serial blasts convict Yakub Memon to keep rumour-mongers at bay and prevent any untoward incident.
For over 48 hours, the lab monitored social media posts continuously and managed to block or delete over a dozen objectionable posts, many of them related to Yakub’s hanging.
“We continuously monitored social media and through our lab managed to block and delete around 15 such posts that could trigger disharmony,” joint commissioner of police (law and order) Deven Bharti said.
The lab works under the special branch of the Mumbai Police and works round the clock. After detecting objectionable material online, the lab sends it to the cyber cell to get it either blocked or deleted.
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Mumbai Police said they were cautious about activities on social media ahead of Yakub's hanging because of past experiences. In 2014, a 28-year-old IT professional was murdered in Pune after violent protests broke out over morphed photos of Chhatrapati Shivaji and late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
“Ever since the date of Yakub’s hanging became public, we had an eye out for miscreants planning to use the virtual world to spread hatred...our vigil ensured that nothing untoward happened,” said another senior IPS officer.
Police said Facebook, a mobile messaging application and several other mediums were exploited by troublemakers to stir communal tension.
Even when Yakub's body was flown into Mumbai from Nagpur on Thursday, two disturbing stills -- apparently from a CCTV footage -- surfaced.
Taking prompt action, police spokespersons released a statement that read: “Two supposed CCTV stills of Yakub Memon’s hanging and one more photograph are being circulated on WhatsApp. These photos are not authentic. We appeal to the people to refrain from circulating them.”
Hate posts were not limited merely to the virtual world.
In Nasik and some other places, authorities removed offensive banners which painted Yakub as a traitor and sought to celebrate his execution, an official said.
When it became clear that Yakub would be buried in Mumbai, senior police officials planned for all eventualities and their preparations seem to have paid off since no untoward incident has been reported until and during his last rites, the official said.
(With PTI inputs)