Social media becomes a weapon to spark unrest

Prateek Goyal
Friday, 12 January 2018

A message circulated in a WhatsApp group by the name of Shivrajya Abhishek Sohla by one Vicky Sondekar said that a meeting by Sambhaji Bhide was going to be conducted on January 1 at Vadu Budruk at 8 am and large scale preparation had been done in order to welcome him at Koregaon-Bhima. It added that people from a particular community should come in large numbers and take part in the meeting

Pune: Social media, considered an important communication tool in today’s scenario, is widely used as a weapon to create social mayhem by various groups with political motives.

A torrent of messages were circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook prior to the 200th commemoration ceremony of Koregaon-Bhima on January 1. Various individuals circulated these messages to mobilise crowds belonging to two different communities at Vadu. Most of these messages were factually distorted and were sent just to create tension.

A message circulated in a WhatsApp group by the name of Shivrajya Abhishek Sohla by one Vicky Sondekar said that a meeting by Sambhaji Bhide was going to be conducted on January 1 at Vadu Budruk at 8 am and large scale preparation had been done in order to welcome him at Koregaon-Bhima. It added that people from a particular community should come in large numbers and take part in the meeting.

According to information available with Sakal Times, Sondekar is a native of Vadu Budruk and was employed with domestic airline Air Asia. A friend of Sondekar, requesting anonymity, said, “Sondekar used to work as a ground staff with Air Asia at Pune airport. But from the last two months, I haven’t seen him.” Sakal Times repeatedly tried to contact Sondekar but his phone was switched off.

However, the message regarding the meeting was termed a rumour by Sambhaji Bhide as well as other members of his organisation Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan. They added that Bhide was in Bhor on December 31 and on January 1, he went to meet former minister and NCP leader Jayant Patil to pay his condolences on the demise of his mother.  

Another Facebook post shared by one Kaustabh Dashrath Holkar on December 30 appealed to a community to gather in large numbers at the memorial of Sambhaji Maharaj at Vadu Budruk on January 1 in order to stop people who are spreading the wrong history of Vadu.

Holkar, on his Facebook page, calls himself a member of Shiv Sena Yuva Sena. On contacting Pragati Arts, whose name and number appears on the appeal poster shared by Holkar, the owner said, “I haven’t designed any poster and nobody has approached me.”

Similarly, another inflammatory post was shared on December 29. The post shared by one Jay V Lokhande said, “The people who have desecrated the memorial of Ganpat Mahar, the person who cremated Sambhaji Maharaj, need to be taught a lesson. So let’s go to Vadu after paying tribute at Korgaon-Bhima and teach them a lesson. At that time, we were 500, but now we will come in lakhs.” Lokhande identifies himself to be native of Nanded.

Another post shared by one Sachin Jondale, also a native of Nanded, said, “We have become Buddhists, that’s why we have kept our swords aside. Don’t bring the time which will force us to take swords in our hands.”

When contacted, Prakash Ambedkar, leader of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, said that the unrest that happened at Koregaon-Bhima was planned and such posts didn’t have any role to play.

Bipin Bihari Singh, DGP (Prisons), who also holds the post of DGP (Law and Order) at the Police Headquarters in Mumbai, said, “This is a very dangerous trend and a weapon to trigger such incidences.

People are posting content without having any stake in the issue and are posting inflammatory messages without thinking about the consequences. These people have circulated rumours using WhatsApp and Facebook .We do have a system to track such people, and we will find and arrest them.”

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