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Ayodhya verdict: Maharashtra police forms special cyber cell, Bhopal police too orders social media restraint on communally sensitive messages

Bhopal DM has issued orders under section 144 for social media groups and users to refrain from sharing communally sensitive or religiously offensive posts ahead of the Ayodhya verdict.

As the long-drawn-out Ayodhya dispute draws to a close, law enforcement agencies of various states have primed themselves to ensure that no incendiary messages or rumours are circulated online in the wake of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute.

The Maharashtra Cyber cell has formed teams to supervise social media to guard against the inflammatory comments and posts made to incite communal hatred ahead of the verdict. The cell will be collecting intelligence and flag alert to the respective state police if any objectionable content is shared by residents of those states. The cyber police team will work from a social media lab situated in the World Trade Centre at Cuffe Parade having essential computer networks, software along with a requisite number of technical experts that will help them in monitoring social media.

The Bhopal District administration in Madhya Pradesh has also been on alert. Proscribing offensive content on the social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Group SMS and other social media platforms, the Bhopal Collector and District Magistrate Tarun Pithode made it mandatory for users of these social media platforms to inform police if any derogatory content against any religion is shared by miscreants. He also said that in case any hateful remarks or messages are shared on Whatsapp, the admin of that group will be responsible for propagating the hatred.

In order to make sure that law and order prevail in the city, Faizabad police have taken a preventive action by deploying more than 16000 volunteers to keep an eye on the social media platforms ahead of the Ayodhya verdict. According to the Senior Superintendent of Police Ashish Tiwari, a similar number of volunteers have been assigned across 1,600 localities in the district to uphold law and order when the verdict is delivered.

Meerut police have put under scanner several provocative social media accounts who have been posting disparaging religious remarks. The SP(Rural) Meerut Avinash Pandey said that more than 10 Facebook and Twitter that posted objectionable content were brought down by the police. He revealed that many Twitter accounts with Hindu mythological characters names have emerged who are posting insensitive comments. The Meerut police are now trying to ascertain the real identities of these mischief mongers.

A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had heard the Ayodhya case on a day-to-day basis for 40 days and reserved its verdict on October 16. The court is expected to deliver its verdict on a dispute over the possession of 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya district in Uttar Pradesh before November 17, when CJI Gogoi retires.

Police forces in Uttar Pradesh and other states too have been put on alert ahead of the verdict. Section 144 has already been imposed in the areas surrounding the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.

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