From trawling social media for communally sensitive messages to meeting community leaders, Mumbai Police is taking several measures to ensure there are no law and order problems following the Supreme Court judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.
“We are keeping an eye out for anything that may be circulated on social media which could vitiate the peaceful atmosphere around the day of the verdict,” said Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve. A Constitution Bench ruling on the Ayodhya matter is expected before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17.
The Mumbai police is likely to seek assistance from paramilitary forces to ensure there is heavy deployment of police on the streets on the day of the verdict and is planning to place several people, with a history of fomenting trouble, in preventive detention. Victory processions or bursting of firecrackers will not be permitted, police said.
Senior police officers said they are not expecting major law and order problems, but are alert to the possible misuse of social media in spreading misinformation, including through morphed images, from another country.
“While we have a social media team that looks out for any such content on social networking sites, we are also trying to be alert for any morphed images that could be spread on WhatsApp groups. We are in touch with authorities at WhatsApp in case we need to curb the flow of misinformation,” said an IPS officer. The officer added that action will be taken against those who spread such messages.
In meetings with community leaders, the police has asked them to spread the message in their communities that they should accept the apex court’s verdict.