Rumours exacerbate tension in city | india | Hindustan Times
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Rumours exacerbate tension in city

?Is everything OK? I have heard that riots have broken out in the city,? a caller from Lalbagh?s Beldari Lane enquired the Hindustan Times on phone on Tuesday night.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2006 02:25 IST

“Is everything OK? I have heard that riots have broken out in the city,” a caller from Lalbagh’s Beldari Lane enquired the Hindustan Times on phone on Tuesday night.

At Chowk, a prominent sweet shop owner pulled down the shutters earlier than usual. Asked why, he remarked, “The situation is tense. Riots could break out anytime.” Tension was palpable right from Aliganj markets to Alambagh, Narahi and Hazratganj.

Anxious residents called up the HT repeatedly to verify whether the situation was bad. “I have to catch the Lucknow Mail tonight. Is it safe?” asked a senior executive of a prominent private bank. It was clear that the rumour mills had worked overtime. The rumours had spread like wild fire within 30 minutes of Varanasi blasts. Students who had gone to take tuitions found their parents calling them up and asking them to return “immediately”.

The truth was that barring 15 minutes of ‘confusion’ and rumour mongering in Kaiserbagh, Aminabad and Moulviganj that forced the markets to close down once again, there was nothing abnormal happening in the city.

Yet, tension was palpable almost all over the city. From Mawaiya to Indiranagar everyone on the roads seemed to be in a tearing hurry to reach home. The rumours were so strong that even Kanpur-Lucknow passengers started enquiring from Kanpur whether it was safe to land in the city. But when the HT took a tour of the city, there was nothing that one could find—barring suspicion, unfounded fears and reliance on rumours that is.

Rumour mongers also seemed to have succeeded in spreading rumours that a murder that apparently took place at Moulviganj (around the time when rumour mongering was at its peak) due to “business rivalry” was also connected to the riots. Perception is more dangerous than reality. So while the reality was that the city was safe on Tuesday night, perception and underlying tension seemed to suggest otherwise.