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Pulwama aftermath: Crackdown on WhatsApp groups in Jammu; police arrest 'arsonists' after accusations of partisanship

  • The violence has also fractured relations between two communities

  • Jammu residents accused the forces of failing to prevent torching of scores of vehicles attacks on Kashmiris

  • The police released the photographs of three people who raised 'anti-India' slogans on 11 February

The authorities in Jammu have cracked down on WhatsApp groups and arrested those that allegedly burned scores of vehicles during the protests triggered by the death of 42 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in the 14 February terror attack. This comes after Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration came under fire from government employees and political parties who accused it of being “partisan” in handling the violence, which included stones being pelted at flats.

 Pulwama aftermath: Crackdown on WhatsApp groups in Jammu; police arrest arsonists after accusations of partisanship

Security forces personnel arrive for reinforcement during the gunbattle in Pulwama. PTI

The Jammu Deputy Commissioner has directed those creating and running WhatsApp groups to immediately enable message uploading status to “only admins can send messages”, register with their nearest police stations, and report any content that could disturb “ regional and religious” sentiments to the police. While the ban on sending messages in WhatsApp groups will remain in force till 28 February, the registration of WhatsApp and Facebook groups has to be done by 23 February.

Inspector General of Police Jammu, MK Sinha, said arrests have been made regarding the vehicles that were torched. “We are still identifying their roles but they were very much presentat the places of disturbance,”  he said. He added that police were investigating whether the violence in Jammu was “well organised.”

The police have released the photographs of three people who raised 'anti-India' slogans on 11 February outside a college in Jammu and asked the public to help trace them. Right-wing groups in the region claimed violence erupted at the protest march after some groups chanted 'pro-Pakistan' slogans. Jammu deputy commissioner Ramesh Kumar said the curfew has been relaxed and people can register social networking groups with the police.

Jammu residents accused the forces deployed after the protests of failing to prevent the torching of scores of vehicles and attacks on Kashmiris and their homes. Former minister and senior PDP leader Chaudhary Zulfikar Ali said, “Precautions should have been taken to prevent violence. I think the action was not prompt, the preparedness of the administration was lacking,” he said.

The violence has also fractured relations between two communities, with some political leaders saying it could be used by the saffron party to garner votes during the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. In the aftermath of the violence, some groups have sought the "checking" of the “settlement” of outsiders in Jammu to “arrest the change in its demography.”

However, Zulfikar said Gujjars need to be settled permanently. “There is a tribal policy all over India and in order to preserve the tribal culture. Gujjars need to be settled at one place. The tribals have to be treated equally, like in other parts of country, and not be discriminated against on the basis of their religion.”

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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2019 19:36:57 IST