To counter misinformation that could spark communal violence in Uttar Pradesh, the Gautam Buddha Nagar administration is setting up a ‘war room’ to monitor the spread of such messages and online posts, and take action, officials said. While the move is aimed at curbing the spread of messages that are communal and divisive, the administration is also planning to use the platform to disseminate information regarding government schemes.
“Any inappropriate messages and information which are an attempt to disturb law and order and peace in an area will be tracked. We will take appropriate action against those found guilty. Today, various modes are being followed — electronic and non-electronic, and in such a situation, administration becomes a challenge. A lot of things are being done through IT. For smart administration, there is a need to receive and disseminate information in real time,” said B N Singh, District Magistrate, Gautam Buddha Nagar.
This move is similar to steps taken by the district administration in January — before Assembly elections in the state. Following meetings with telecom operators and police, the administration had started tracking messages on WhatsApp, bulk text messages and social media until the polls. Officials had also decided to take legal action in cases where “communal propaganda” was being spread through messages.
In 2015, a few days after Mohd Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri over suspicion of beef consumption, an FIR was lodged over communally sensitive material being circulated on social media. In 2013, after violence gripped Muzaffarnagar, police believe a video of two young men being allegedly lynched — later found to have been shot in Waziristan in 2011 — was passed from phone to phone across the district through such messaging platforms.
Officials said the ‘war room’, expected to come up soon, will have around half a dozen officials working in two shifts. They will undergo training at the Centre for Cyber Investigation. A key part of its operations would include dissemination of information regarding various government schemes and their implementation.
“There are so many government schemes not reaching the target groups — village heads, PDS shops, teachers, etc. We want people to know about these schemes. To avail benefits under these schemes, people need to upload their details and documents…,” Singh said.