The violent usage and effects of the internet
The Saturday riots at Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus seemed like an internet and cell phone caused carnage. It is shocking that more than fifty thousand people turned up because of the distribution of messages and the posting of images that were of a virulent nature.
Most Muslims, senior leaders of the community stated it was a peaceful prayer meeting that turned into a violent day. Video clips of the Gujarat riots of 2002 were doctored to fit into the Assam context. Secondly the pictures that were circulated carried the label of Jamaat –e-Islami Pakistan. They were of a highly sensitive and igniting nature, E.g. a Burmese man bleeding and running for his life on the streets, while the police are standing still. Videos of such kind were also being sent around through MMS and Bluetooth.
The prayer meeting is a completely understandable and peaceful response to the whole anger created. But the heavy circulation of all the graphics and information triggered the use of weapons, kerosene towards innocent civilians including Muslims and led to the molestation of eight women constables. It was noted that most of the violence occurred outside the Azaad Maidaan.
The Saturday riots were certainly a carefully constructed operation looking at the way information was circulated. It was aimed particularly to ignite the passions of the rural Muslim population. Most youth that joined the rally were from areas like Garib Nagar, Bandra.
The most upsetting characteristic in the whole event is that some section of the public did not know how to differentiate between right and wrong information. What is valid and what is invalid. What was the truth and what was not? This is the factor that caused the aggression. Enraging unnecessarily over ambiguous news and rumours has had a history of evoking aggressive reactions in India.
Raza academy, one of the organisers of the rally was criticized by senior Muslim spiritual leaders for lack of management of religious issues and public events related to it. This is one institution which has always been known to have instigated passion in people and has an aggressive way of expressing its views and thoughts. E.g. They asked for Bangladeshi author Tasleema Nasreen to be “kicked out” of india.
The police in India are never prepared for a riot situation. The police was informed about large rough crowds headed from the eastern suburbs to south Mumbai. Where were the crowd control operations? There was no sign of alert personnel in the area around CST before the rally started. This is utterly saddening.
On Sunday the police took help of religious leaders to maintain peace during the funerals of the riot victims. What was the purpose? Why couldn’t they do the same on the day when they were alerted about the rally? Funerals are not where violence erupts. There is no need to maintain peace on such a day as everybody is in moaning and none have the energy to create mischief.
Why do we as a nation always wait for bodies to drop dead? Why do we wait for blood to shed to stop crime? These questions seriously need to be addressed.
S. TANUJA SURENDRA