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Mumbai violence: ‘Web provocative content,including Gujarat riot had 60 lakh hits’

Govt said a webpage with provocative content had a serious impact on Azad Maidan protest.

State Home Minister R R Patil on Monday said a link leading to a webpage with provocative content had a serious impact on the protest at Azad Maidan. “There were 60 lakh hits on a particular link leading to provocative content. But the videos and images were not of incidents in Assam and Myanmar. They were doctored and were actually images of the Gujarat riot and China earthquake,” said Patil.

Even as Muslim leaders called for peace after Saturday’s violence near Azad Maidan,the Mumbai Police has begun to take serious note of groups that are continuing to post inflammatory content on social networking sites.

Even as the organisers of the protest meet have apologised for the violence,a few groups on social networking sites,with several hundred followers each,have urged members to continue spreading the word about atrocities against Muslims and to “come out on the streets again in other cities”. Senior police officers confirmed that the Mumbai Police was contemplating action against those posting inflammatory content on these sites.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy said that the Cyber Crime Cell is monitoring all posts and pictures of the Azad Maidan protest put up on Facebook and other sites. “We are also checking and tracing persons who put up such pictures,both before and after the violence,on Saturday. Action will be taken against such persons,” said Roy.

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One group on Facebook,called ‘STOP killing Muslims in Burma’,had 12,606 members at the last count. With posts asking group members to organise demonstrations and inform the moderators for publicity,the Azad Maidan protest too finds mention in the group page. Until Monday evening,there were 320 ‘likes’ and 153 comments about the Azad Maidan protest. One user urged other group members to organise similar protests in their cities.

The use of social media was key in publicising the Azad Maidan protest with a special ‘public event notification’ on Facebook still active. More than 1,500 users had confirmed that they would attend the protest. Posts on the page ranged from media bashing to condemning alleged police brutality on “peaceful protestors” at Azad Maidan. One user referred to the two victims who died in the violence as martyrs.

With posts ranging from “waking up the Indian government” to “doing whatever it takes to draw attention”,the groups have seen a flurry of activity. “As a general rule,the hate-mongers are more active on the worldwide web,” said Javed Anand,secretary of Muslims for Secular Democracy and trustee of Citizens for Justice and Peace,which handed over a memorandum to Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik calling for,among other things,reviving Mohalla Committees in sensitive parts of the city. “But the overwhelming majority of young Muslims are angry at what happened. They’re drawing comparisons with peaceful community movements and are calling what happened at Azad Maidan a disgrace to the community,” Anand added.

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Retired assistant commissioner of police Shamsher Khan Pathan said he believes the community members will hand over the perpetrators of violence once CCTV footage identifies them. “But the police should not pick up innocent Muslims. They should be strict against criminals,but there should be no vindictiveness.”

Meanwhile,Pakistan-based blogger Faraz Ahmed posted a link showing that some of these pictures were from other

conflict and disaster-hit Asian countries.

First published on: 14-08-2012 at 03:19:20 am
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