India asks Pak to check inciters

India asks Pak to check inciters

Islamabad to cooperate if New Delhi offers proof

India asks Pak to check inciters

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Sunday told his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik to crack down on elements who posted inflammatory images and messages on websites to whip up communal sentiments in India.

Shinde called up Pakistani Interior Minister Rahman Malik and told him that probes by Indian agencies had already confirmed that the inflammatory messages with the false pictures posted on websites had originated from Pakistan. Malik told Shinde that Islamabad would cooperate with New Delhi if India shared evidence with Pakistan.

Morphed pictures of natural calamities in Tibet and Thailand posted with inflammatory messages on several websites in the aftermath of violent clashes in Assam contributed to the violence in Mumbai and subsequent panic that led to the exodus of North-Eastern people from several cities in India, to their home States.

Diplomatic sources, however, said Islamabad had conveyed to New Delhi that India should refrain from blaming Pakistan, thus widening the trust deficit between the two neighbours, and should rather “focus on its internal issues.”

New Delhi stepped up pressure on Islamabad after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed that the two teams of cyber-security experts had identified over 100 websites on which inflammatory messages about the death of Muslims in Myanmar as well as Assam were uploaded from Pakistan.

Shinde pointed it out to Malik that social media and networking websites were being misused by elements based in Pakistan to circulate false pictures and stories to whip up communal sentiments in India.

He conveyed New Delhi’s concerns over the issue and sought Islamabad’s “full cooperation in checking and neutralising such elements.”   

New Delhi made the revelations about the role of Pakistani elements in attempts to trigger communal frenzy in India, after thousands of people of North-Eastern states left Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune and other cities following rumours about the possibility of assaults on them in retaliation for the clashes in western Assam.

“Unidentified Muslim extremists are waging an online campaign after the outbreak of violent clashes in Myanmar between Buddhists and Muslims. The Assam violence has also been dovetailed as being part of the same narrative in a world where Muslims are being persecuted,” noted an internal report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). A copy of the report is available with Deccan Herald.

Fake images were used to mobilise a protest demonstration at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on August 11 last to denounce the killing of Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. The protest turned violent and two people were killed.  A number of police and media vehicles were damaged. Several cops were also injured.

The MHA report revealed that fake profiles had been created on social networking sites, mostly since the last week of July, to post the pictures shot in the aftermath of the earthquake in Tibet and cyclone in Thailand and use them to fraudulently depict violence against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar and whip up communal frenzy.

“These elements are using the Internet and its social media sites for dissemination of exaggerated accounts of the violence in Assam and for re-circulating fabricated evidences to inflame the passions of Muslims in different parts of India during the fasting period of Ramzan,” it said.

The MHA report noted that social media, emails, Internet Chat rooms, VOIP calls were rampantly being used spread disinformation and rumour mongering and spread general unrest in Assam and other parts of the country.

“Within a short duration, threats and counter threats have been spread far and wide using the digital media. A lot many threats have been made in the open while certain plans and coordination activities are being carried out in IRC Chat rooms and mails,” the report added.

The issue has come  up as yet another irritant in New Delhi’s troubled ties with Islamabad, ahead of a possible meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Tehran on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit towards the end of this month.