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food for thought

The mischievous power of social media was laid bare in a recent incident at Sarbhog in Barpeta district recently. In the Facebook account of a poultry trader of a minority community, there appeared slogans like ‘Pakistan zindabad’ and ‘Hindustan murdabad’, along with vitriolic comments against Hindus. As this post went viral, a frenzied crowd gathered at Sarbhog market and set fire to the trader’s shop. Had he been there, he would likely have been lynched but fortunately the police had picked him up earlier. As the sleuths examined the FB post, they traced the noxious message to have been uploaded from the smartphone of a youth belonging to the majority community. It turned out that this youth had once helped the trader open an FB account and thus knew his password. Later they fell out, and the youth decided to settle scores by framing the trader in this manner. Thus Sarbhog police through its prompt investigation helped avert a communal clash. Such conflict would have been a tragedy for the people of greater Bornagar area in Barpeta, who have been living in amity for ages. In neighboring Meghalaya, the police in Shillong has been after troublemakers using social media to turn a small altercation between a Khasi bus driver and a Sikh lady into a major sectarian conflict. The Assam police is reportedly giving final touches to its cyber dome, so that it would be fully equipped to keep watch on social media and track down cyber offenders. With the second part draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam due to be published on June 30, cyber sleuths of Assam police need to be fully geared for the challenge ahead. The Sarbhog incident has shown how easy it is for troublemakers to sow communal discord and trigger strife in sensitive areas of the State.

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Ankur Kalita