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To check rumours, bulk SMSs banned

Sun, 19th Aug 2012

Members of Parliament, cutting across party lines, on Friday sent out a strong and loud message to the northeast people that the whole country was for them and with them and that they need not have any apprehension about their safety. Like any other citizen, they have every right to study, work and reside in any part of India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha when the Houses took up for discussion, by suspending question hour, attacks on the northeast people and their exodus. He said the growing sense of insecurity among the northeast people was “more reprehensible.”

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he had directed intelligence personnel to trace the source of rumours and false information being spread against the northeast population through SMSs and websites such as YouTube and facebook. Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said that to check rumours, bulk SMSs and MMSs have been banned for 15 days with immediate effect. No one would be allowed to send more than 5 SMSs at a time and more than 20 KB of data through mobile phones. During his intervention in the Lok Sabha, Dr. Singh, a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, said the northeast was a very sensitive region and whatever might have happened in Kokrajhar and other areas should not be used as an occasion to fan rumours. Communal harmony and unity and integrity were at stake and everyone should work to create an atmosphere to end rumour-mongering.

Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj urged the government to set up helplines to assist the northeast people to air their grievances, and increase police patrolling to instil a sense of confidence among them.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said a fear psychosis was being created among the northeast people and steps should be taken to end rumour-mongering.

Keywords: Northeast violence, North Easterners exodus, Assam violence, bulk SMS, bulk MMS, social networking, Bodo-Muslim clashes, social discrimination.

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