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Ayodhya verdict: 100 held across north India for provocative social media posts

At least 100 people including 77 in Uttar Pradesh alone were arrested for allegedly making provocative social media posts since the Supreme Court verdict on the disputed site at Ayodhya, officials said on Sunday.

Considering the sensitivity of the verdict, additional police forces will continue to be deployed in many cities of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand as the authorities extended suspension of internet services in parts of UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh till Monday and beyond.

Additional forces were deployed in many towns in the Hindi heartland, including UP since Diwali on October 27. The deployment was increased in the wake of Saturday’s judgment.

Uttar Pradesh police said 77 people were arrested under 34 cases of making provocative social media posts or attempting to breach peace across 75 districts in the state.

“Action was taken against 8,275 social media posts on various platforms in the past 48 hours,” said Inspector General (IG) of Police (Law and Order) Praveen Kumar. He said the action included registration of cases, removal of content by users themselves and getting the profile of users blocked.

Of the total FIRs, 22 were lodged on Sunday and 12 on Saturday. Kumar said the districts where multiple cases were registered included Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Kannauj, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bijnore, Ferozabad, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Bareilly, Unnao, Barabanki and Prayagraj.

In Rajasthan, 12 people were arrested for posting objectionable matter or trying to disturb peace following the SC verdict on Ayodhya since Saturday afternoon, police said.

According to the police, two persons were arrested in Bikaner, while one person each was arrested in Jhalawar, Churu, Jaipur and Bundi districts for posting objectionable matter. Besides, three people in Bikaner, two in Hanumangarh and one each in Kota rural and Tonk district were arrested for distorting peace and unlawful assembly, police said.

In Madhya Pradesh, eight people were arrested for making provocative posts on the verdict and Gwalior jail warden Mahesh Awad was suspended for bursting crackers after the verdict came, officials said. Of these, eight arrests were made in Seoni district and two in Gwalior, police said.

In Uttarakhand, a BJP municipal councillor was arrested for uploading a provocative post on Facebook in Uddam Singh Nagar on Sunday, police said. The accused identified as Shiv Kumar Gangwar of Shiv Nagar ward had threatened to kill those who come in the way of building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. “He has been arrested under different sections of the IPC,” said Vidyadutt Joshi, station house officer at Transit Camp police station, where the case was lodged.

The restrictions were imposed considering that in 1992, a mob had destroyed the 16th-century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, triggering riots in several parts of the country, in which about 2,000 people, were killed,. However, no major violence was reported after the court ruling came on Saturday as both Muslim and Hindu religious leaders called for peace and harmony.

Meanwhile, the administration in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh extended the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC for more days even though no incident of major violence was reported from anywhere. Police officials in these states said flag marches and peace meetings were conducted in the sensitive areas and people were advised not to make provocative speeches or social media posts.

In Hindi speaking states, the deployment of additional forces continued in the sensitive areas with around two lakh police and paramilitary personnel deployed in and around Ayodhya alone. Before Saturday’s verdict, the government deployed thousands of paramilitary forces and police in Ayodhya and other sensitive places. Hindu groups told members not to celebrate publicly.

Suspension of internet services continued in several places in Uttar Pradesh such as Ayodhya, Agra, Meerut, Varanasi and Rampur. In Rajasthan, internet services remained suspended for the second day in nine districts of Jaipur and Bharatpur divisions and towns of Ajmer, Kota and Bundi. In Madhya Pradesh, the internet ban continued in Bhopal and several other sensitive areas.

While in UP the ban will continue till Tuesday, in Rajasthan the ban is till 10am on Monday. Like Rajasthan police, the MP police will also take a call on extending the ban on Monday after reviewing the security and intelligence inputs, officials said.

Rajasthan director general of police (DGP) Bhupendra Singh said the continuation of the ban is a precautionary measure even as no untoward incident has been reported. Kumar said monitoring of social media platforms will continue for a few more days.

In Uttarakhand, which shares a border with Uttar Pradesh, the state police continued with the clampdown with imposition of Section 144 and also conducted flag marches in certain pockets of Dehradun, Nainital and Haridwar districts on Sunday.

Source: HindustanTimes