Is it time to curb the rising menace of social media tools in Maharashtra?

ROHIT CHANDAVARKAR
Friday, 2 February 2018

Maharashtra has seen caste-related violence many times in the past and the state has returned back on track within a short time. A similar recovery in the situation is expected now, a couple of days after the riots of Koregaon-Bhima took place on Monday in Pune district. But the new and dangerous part of the incident this time is that tension spread to many cities of the state including capital Mumbai within hours of the incident of Koregaon-Bhima and the obvious culprit for this is the irresponsible use of social media by miscreants

Maharashtra has seen caste-related violence many times in the past and the state has returned back on track within a short time. A similar recovery in the situation is expected now, a couple of days after the riots of Koregaon-Bhima took place on Monday in Pune district. But the new and dangerous part of the incident this time is that tension spread to many cities of the state including capital Mumbai within hours of the incident of Koregaon-Bhima and the obvious culprit for this is the irresponsible use of social media by miscreants.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a judicial probe into the riots of Koregaon-Bhima and said that the guilty will not be spared. The first thing the CM said after this announcement was that some anti-social elements have spread malicious rumours through social media which has resulted in arson spreading to other cities of the state. The cyber cell of Pune police had to issue stern warnings on popular social media application WhatsApp against those spreading rumours through it. Distorted images and wrong information was being spread on WhatsApp by some people deliberately. Some elements of social media have clearly reached a level where they can actually bring a situation which can threaten the law and order situation in a city.

Miscreants spreading messages to thousands or perhaps lakhs of people without any control has proved to be a very dangerous thing as we have seen in the past two days. Wrong information being spread and provocative pictures or videos being posted has led to tension in several cities of Maharashtra. There has to be some restriction put on this misuse of such a medium.

Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar has alleged that the local police in Koregaon-Bhima could not assess the situation properly and many miscreants had organised this violence in advance by visiting the place two or three days before the big event. It is obvious that the force could not control the law and order situation in the district. People gathering in such large numbers and communal issues being discussed was an obviously dangerous situation which should have been handled with a much higher presence of state reserve police and perhaps even paramilitary forces.

Maharashtra has had a long tradition of social harmony. This state was at the forefront of social reform not since decades but centuries. Some people who are politically motivated and have vested interests are trying to spoil this. They must not be allowed to succeed. They cannot be allowed to block the progress and growth of the state. Any attempts to do so must be crushed.

 

 

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