Edited by Abhinav Bhatt | Updated: August 18, 2012 13:30 IST
Five people have been arrested and four others have been identified in Bangalore for spreading rumours, a PTI report said. Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has been warning that the police is identifying those who are trying to disturb the peace by deliberately misreporting facts.
The government's ban on bulk messages means that no one in the country can send an SMS to more than five people in one go. In the last month, nearly 80 people have died in ethnic violence in Assam and doctored MMSes and text messages have infected other states, warning that students and professionals from the North East will be attacked. In a viral effect, the rumour-mongering has had people of the north eastern community heading back home in panic.
Sources say the government has asked relevant agencies to scan all social media platforms to check for inflammatory and offensive content. The Director General of the Computer Emergency Response Team (DG-CERT), which has the powers to block content, has been put on standby to take immediate action.
In Parliament today the Prime Minister summed up the special discussion by saying, "We want to send out a message to all those who want to jeopardise our unity that this House stands united and we will work together to control the elements who want to create trouble." The BJP's Sushma Swaraj began the discussion in the Lok Sabha by saying, "We must rise above politics and tackle the North East issue... We're with you, country is with you."
People from the North East are still waiting at the Bangalore railway station to head home, but much fewer than in the last two days. The railways has had to arrange for three extra trains today and say this will be the last. Two special trains had departed for Guwahati yesterday and three had left Bangalore on Wednesday, in addition to the regular train that runs every evening. Not all those boarding trains say fear is driving them out. Many say they are headed home because they have a long festive weekend ahead; some say they feel safe, but their worried parents have summoned them home. Over one lakh people from the North-East live in Bangalore.
Like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune, which have been on guard against aftershocks of the ethnic violence that has hit Assam, are calmer. In Hyderabad, though the north east community has been tense, the police say not many have left the city. Special trains or extra bogies had been arranged from Pune and Hyderabad yesterday, but no such arrangements were needed today. The Pune police is meeting various groups in the city to assure them of security.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has sent his ministers to visit cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad and assure people from his state living there that they are safe and should stay in these cities. Ministers Chandan Verma and Neelamani Deka visited Bangalore; Pradyuth Bordoloi and Rakibul Hussain visited Hyderabad. Both sets accompanied the respective state home ministers on tours of the cities.
In several confidence building measures, the Bangalore police has sent out SMSes with reassuring messages to people from the north east, the state government has placed newspaper ads promising safety and representatives of the north eastern community have met the home minister and police chief. This apart from the regular visits home minister R Ashok and police commissioner have been making to the railway station.
Mr Ashok said several heads of business houses had assured the government that they would provide proper security and shelter to non-Kannadiga employees. The Karnataka home minister also said the state had asked the Centre for 600 Rapid Action Force jawans to beef up security. He reiterated that Bangalore was the safest place to be.
In Delhi this morning, Home Secretary RK Singh has said that the situation in Bangalore is under control. He also said the situation back in Assam was "fully under control."
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