Bhagalpur riots probe panel warns of social media dangers

Patna, Aug 8 (IANS) The Bhagalpur Riots Probe Commission’s report has warned the government that social media has become a launch pad for spreading hatred and communal propaganda.

The 1,000-page report was tabled in the Bihar assembly on Friday. Over 1,000 people lost their lives in the 1989 Bhagalpur riots.

In its report, the commission headed by Justice (retd) N.N. Singh has stressed the need to clamp down on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube in view of changed times and modus operandi to spread hatred and communal propaganda by using them.

“Social media has become the new launch pad for communal riots and hatred mongering and for serious violence with malicious content. Fake Youtube videos and morphed malicious photographs were doing the job of inciting people more effectively than spoken words or speeches today,” the report cautioned the government.

The report has further said: “Online propaganda is a new trend. It is a dangerous phenomenon that communal polarisation is moving online. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube can be more persuasive than television ads and spoken words…,” the report said.

The report also highlighted how malicious videos had led to violence during the Muzaffarnagar communal riots in 2013 in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh in his report said the state government should strengthen its intelligence network with the focus on information gathering in districts.

The Bhagalpur riots were triggered in October 1989 when a Hindu religious procession led by the VHP for a brick collection drive for a temple in Ayodhya, was targeted by bombs.

The report has blamed the then Congress government in Bihar. It also blamed the local administration and police for inaction.

“If district administration and local police had taken actions and measures, riots could be avoided,” the report said.

In February, the Bhagalpur riots probe panel submitted its report to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Soon after coming to power in November 2005, Nitish Kumar had set up an inquiry commission under Justice (retd) N.N. Singh to probe the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, which claimed over 1,000 lives and left in its wake a trail of devastation.

Kumar had appointed the probe panel in February 2006 in view of the state cabinet’s decision to get 27 cases of communal riots re-investigated to bring the guilty to book and punish the officials responsible for their acquittal, despite substantial evidence against them.

 

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