Delhi Police on Monday arrested more than 40 people on charges of spreading panic through social media about fresh communal violence in the city. All these rumours later turned out to be fake. A few of those arrested had a large number of followers on Twitter, while in several other cases, several thousand people made PCR calls to police to report about firing and violence, all of which were later found to be false.
On Sunday alone, over 2,000 PCR calls were made to police within a span of two hours from 7 pm to 9 pm reporting disturbances, but all of these calls were found to be based on fake news. 481 fake calls were received in West Delhi, while 413 fake calls were received in South East Delhi by police.
On Monday too, there was panic for some time when a rumour spread about rioters moving on M. B. Road near Tughlaqabad. Both the police and media were alert and the rumour was later found to be false. Senior Delhi police officers at the level of SHO, ACP and DCP had to take recourse to Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to assure people that there was peace in all localities of the city.
Delhi Police has now started taking action against gangs spreading rumours. These gangs have been spreading panic in areas like Khayala, Badarpur, Paschim Vihar, Kalindi Kunj, Madanpur Khadar, Dwarka, Rohini, Govindpuri, Uttam Nagar and Jasola. On Sunday evening, some Delhi Metro stations had to be closed for some time due to panic caused by rumours.
There could be many reasons behind spreading rumours. In one instance in Khayala, police had raided a den of gamblers, and while escaping, the gamblers spread rumours about rioting to deflect the attention of the police.
Rumours always spread like wildfire. During the Nineties, rumours of Lord Ganesha idols drinking milk led to virtual stampedes at temples with people trying to make the god drink milk. The rumours spread so fast that Hindus in California tried to offer milk to Ganesha statues. Similarly, a rumour once spread about sea water on Mumbai coast turning sweet, and thousands of people rushed to seashores with bottles to collect 'sweet' sea water.
In Delhi, the perpetrators of communal riots on February 24 and 25 used rumours to spread hate and panic leading to violence, and Delhi Police was caught napping. However, on Sunday and Monday, Delhi Police effectively foiled the plans of rumour mongers, whose main aim was to create panic and cause mistrust among Hindus and Muslims.
I understand that rumours have a force of their own, but it will be better if our citizens stop forwarding fake messages and hate videos on social media. If India TV viewers get such fake news or hate videos on their cellphones, they can contact us on 93505 93505. You can also forward such messages to me on Twitter @RajatSharmaLive.
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