Bengaluru: In Bengaluru, rumours of threats to the city and its residents had started a few days ago. It began with tweets threatening vengeance for the arrest of the man allegedly behind the pro-Islamic State twitter handle @ShamiWitness. Then there were warnings of a hostage situation in the city similar to the events that unfolded in Sydney. Most recently, a WhatsApp message began doing the rounds that spoke of danger to schools and colleges and several prominent city localities that have been named.
However, unlike in New Delhi and the National Capital Region, attendance in schools in Bengaluru was not much affected by the rumours - and the police did their bit to quell any possible panic.
The police commissioner sent out messages on social media, including this one.
"Ignore rumors on terror threat to Bengaluru today. There is no threat to city's security. please carry on with NORMAL ACTIVITIES. Commissioner of Police, Blr City," the message said.
Police Commissioner MN Reddi told NDTV, "You have to use the same technology that has been used to spread the rumours. So you have to get back through social media, We used Twitter, we used Facebook, we used the method of sending bulk sms...I hope that we reached a large number of people to tell them there is really no basis to these particular rumours and they should go about their normal life...We have to cut the diamond with the diamond. If they use social media, you use social media too."
Police have stepped up security in a similar way after events in other countries - and more security checks are being seen at malls and other busy public places. The Home Ministry's advisory has also asked states to be alert. But police say there was no specific threat to which they are responding - even as they step up the levels of alertness. They are currently trying to find out the source of the WhatsApp rumour and other messages that tried to spread worry in the city.