Forensics and police personnel investigate areas and houses burnt and vandalised by rioters in violence over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), at Khajuri Khas in northeast Delhi.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Forensics and police personnel investigate areas and houses burnt and vandalised by rioters in violence over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), at Khajuri Khas in northeast Delhi.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Delhi riots: Police crack down on fake messages, 40 accounts suspended

Investigators said that these accounts were circulating fake images and videos to spread rumours and had been broadcasting messages to gather crowds in the riot-hit areas.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Anvit Srivastava
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2020 06:29 AM IST

In the past week, Delhi Police got as many as 40 social media accounts suspended for allegedly fuelling the violence in north-east Delhi. The accounts were with websites like Twitter, Faceboook and Instagram.

Investigators said that these accounts were circulating fake images and videos to spread rumours and had been broadcasting messages to gather crowds in the riot-hit areas.

Till Sunday, Delhi Police’s cyber cell had registered 20 first information reports (FIRs) under the Information Technology Act. Officers said the number is expected to increase in the coming days.

Over 900 people have been detained or arrested in connection with the violence.

However, police did not specify how many of them were because they had posted fake messages online.

A senior police officer from the cyber cell, who did not wish to be named, said, “These accounts were sharing posts that were malicious and may have fuelled the violence in many affected areas. We have found that these accounts were also circulating false and fake images or videos spreading rumours related to violence-hit areas. We will enlarge these images and video screengrabs to identity the troublemakers.”

The officer said police began writing to Twitter and Facebook last week on these suspected accounts, and said that the numbers are expected to increase in the coming week.

Delhi Police spokesperson additional commissioner of police (crime) MS Randhawa confirmed that the police did get in touch with the social media companies over accounts that were found to be provoking people to resort to violence.

Apart from this, the police have also gathered more than 1000 pictures and videos from social media accounts, WhatsApp groups and from local people which they are scanning to zero down on the perpetrators (source of the messages).

Many of these accounts, police said, had no pictures or proper names.

The officer said investigations have also revealed that a majority of these accounts had been set up recently.

“They were sending broadcast messages and had formed groups to connect with a large number of social media users. The messages were being used to mobilize mobs particularly in and around the riot-hit areas,” the officer added.

Police have also found that few of these accounts were being operated from outside the country, but refused to reveal the name of the countries, saying that investigations related to them are still under process.

“We are trying to identify the account owners and users. All those who were associated with these accounts in any way are also being identified. We are compiling a data of on what time, from what place, and from which device these accounts were active,” the officer added.

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