Cops ‘helpless’ in tackling rumours

Urge residents not to spread hate messages on social networking sites, phones.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune | Published:June 4, 2014 3:06 am
The defamatory posts had led to violence and damage to property in several parts of the city. The defamatory posts had led to violence and damage to property in several parts of the city.

Following the sequence of events that led to violence in the city on Saturday and Sunday and the murder of Mohsin Shaikh on Monday have revealed “helplessness” of investigating agencies in preventing defamatory images, posts and communally sensitive messages from spreading on social networking sites and through cell phone messengers.

Workers of Shiv Sena and some local groups resorted to violence after the link of an objectionable post on Facebook about Maratha king Shivaji and his son Sambhaji, and late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray was circulated through phone messengers. Around 200 PMPML buses were damaged and some persons including cops injured in stone pelting.

Police investigations show that hours before the murder of 24-year-old Mohsin Shaikh in Hadapsar, the situation in various parts of the city including Hadapsar was tense as several communally sensitive messages were circulating.

Deputy commissioner of police Manoj Patil said, “Before the murder, some messages were circulating through Whatsapp messenger among people saying some incidents had taken place, though they had not. We urge people not to spread such baseless hate messages.”

A senior police officer said, “We are helpless in controlling spread of such messages. We now feel the need of a mechanism where government agencies would be able to control the spread of such messages on social networking websites and phone messengers.  These messengers have groups through which these messages reach several people at one time and then messages are shared from one group to the other.”

The officer added, “We have been receiving these hate messages from our sources and alert citizens. Another reason why our hands are tied is that it takes a long time, sometimes as long as 48 hours, to remove these posts. And by that time, the damage
is done.”

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