Agartala: Tripura police on Saturday booked 102 social media account holders under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), criminal conspiracy and forgery charges and served notices to the authorities of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to freeze their accounts and inform all particulars of those persons to it, a senior police official said.
This comes on the heels of Tripura Police registering a case against four Supreme Court lawyers under the stringent act and various sections of the IPC for allegedly promoting communal disharmony with their social media posts on the recent violence targeting Muslims, a senior official said on Friday.
Tripura police on Saturday served notices to the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, USA, by the officer-in-charge of West Agartala police station asking its authority to freeze the accounts of the accused immediately for spreading objectionable news.
“Some persons/organization are publishing/posting distorted and objectionable news items/statements in Twitter regarding the recent clash and alleged attack upon mosques of Muslilm communities in the state. In publishing these news items/posts, the persons/organizations have been found using photographs/videos of some other incidents, fabricated statements/commentary for promoting enmity between religious groups/ communities in presence of a criminal conspiracy. The posts have potential to flare up communal tension in Tripura state between people of different religious communities, which may result into communal riots”, the notice served to the authorities of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube said.
The cases against the social media account holders were registered at the same West Agartala police station under IPC sections 153A (promoting disharmony or feelings of enemity), 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 469 (forgery), 471 (fraudulently or dishonestly using as genuine a forged document), 503 (threatening), 504 (intentional insult) and section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), he said.
Similar notices were sent to Facebook and YouTube authorities as well, police said.
“All the 102 persons, against whom the notices were served were asked to appear before the police and clarify their position”, the official said. The names of the persons who have been charged were not disclosed by police.
The superintendent of police of West Tripura district Manik Das had said that a group of Supreme Court lawyers visited Tripura on Tuesday last and after their visit it was noticed that several posts were made in social media expressing their discontent regarding recent communal incidents. “Police has registered a case and wants to know if the posts were made by them or those were fake posts,” he said.
The lawyers were alleged to have claimed that the Muslim community was targeted, including women, and a mosque was vandalised.
The team had demanded appropriate police action against the attackers, those who spread rumours and officials who remained inactive during attacks that occurred in the aftermath of violence against Hindus in Bangladesh during Durga Puja this year.
The case against the four SC lawyers was registered at West Agartala police station on November 3 under various sections of IPC including 153 (a) and (b) related to promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion, race etc, 469, 504, 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), besides section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
If convicted under the tough UAPA, an offender may face imprisonment up to seven years.
The lawyers belong to different organisations including Lawyers for Democracy, National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO) and the PUCL.
Notices were served to Estesham Hashmi, Supreme Court lawyer, advocate Amit Srivastav, coodinator of Lawyers for Democracy, NCHRO national secretary Ansar Indori and PUCL member Mukesh Kumar.
In the notice to the lawyers, the police had asked them to delete the social media posts and appear before the investigators by November 10.
A mosque was vandalised and two shops were set ablaze at Chamtilla during the October 26 Vishva Hindu Parishad rally, which was called to protest against the communal violence in neighbouring Bangladesh.
Three houses and a few shops, reportedly owned by Muslims, were also ransacked in nearby Rowa Bazar, the police said.
The state government had on October 29 alleged that a group from outside with vested interests had hatched a conspiracy against the administration to create unrest in Tripura and malign its image by uploading fake photographs of a burning mosque on social media after the October 26 incident.