Ayodhya Verdict Out, Security Tightened Across India, Social Media Under Scanner
A sadhu walks past security officers standing guard in Ayodhya, ahead of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land title dispute case. (Photo: PTI) 

Ayodhya Verdict Out, Security Tightened Across India, Social Media Under Scanner

Security has been tightened across India following the Supreme Court’s verdict on the decades-old Ayodhya land dispute case.

The Section 144, which prohibits assembly of four or more people in an area, has been imposed in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan after the Ayodhya verdict. In Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, it had been imposed as a precautionary measure last night.

Social media, too, is continuously being monitored by authorities for content that may trigger disharmony or hatred among citizens of the country.

In a unanimous decision, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Hindu parties in the Ayodhya land dispute case. The disputed land will be handed over to a trust, which will also have representation from the Nirmohi Akhara.

The apex court directed allotment of alternate land to Muslims for construction of a mosque. That land must be at a suitable place in Ayodhya, the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said as he read out the salient points of the judgment over 30 minutes.

Here’s a look at security arrangements across India after the Ayodhya verdict.

Mumbai

Section 144 was imposed in Mumbai on Saturday, effective 11:00 am and will remain in force for the next 24 hours, PTI reported quoting the Mumbai Police spokesperson said.

The order bars holding of public meetings or assembly of more than four persons or processions. It also prohibits entry of all types of vehicles carrying persons intending to participate in such unlawful gatherings.

At least 40,000 police personnel have been deployed in Mumbai, which had witnessed a series of bomb blasts and riots following the Babri Masjid demolition on Dec. 6, 1992.

Security arrangements will be monitored through drone units and live CCTV feeds from the police control room. “We are prepared to tackle any eventuality,” said DCP Pranay Ashok. The police is keeping a close watch on every activity in the city and will also deploy State Reserve Police Force, Riot Control Police and Rapid Action Force.

“We are also monitoring online activities through our social media wing. We will block objectionable posts and content as need be to ensure that no rumours are spread,” Ashok said.

An official clarified that internet services are not disabled as of now. “Police will take a call depending upon the situation,” the senior police officer said.

About declaring holiday for schools, the official said, “We have communicated to school education department. Some schools are already shut due to Diwali holidays while the decision about the rest will be taken according to the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Caretaker Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan on Saturday and apprised him about the steps being taken to maintain “law and order” in the state.

Delhi

The Delhi Police said prohibitory orders have been issued to maintain public order in the national capital.

Delhi Police will initiate strict legal action against mischief mongers or those found indulging in any activity which may adversely affect the peace and public order.

“Activities on social media platforms will be under observation and Delhi Police advises that such platforms should be used with discretion, and users should restrain from spreading any disharmony, hatred or enmity,” the Delhi Police said in an advisory. Prohibitory orders have also been issued, they said.

Security has been beefed up around the Jama Masjid area and parts of Old Delhi. Delhi Police’s Vajra Van and police personnel in two buses have been stationed outside the mosque to deal with any situation.

Ayodhya And Uttar Pradesh

Security was beefed up in Ayodhya and adjoining areas ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, and the state administration is keeping a strict vigil in 31 districts of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Saturday.

The Uttar Pradesh government has created temporary jails in every district, while internet services may be banned in some places to check spread of rumours.

The Union Home Ministry is in regular correspondence with the state government and has provided 4,000 central paramilitary personnel for deployment in Uttar Pradesh, a senior official said.

Special vigil is being maintained on more than 670 people on social media and, if need arises, internet can be stopped to check spread of rumours, the official said.

The state government has identified 31 districts as sensitive, while Section 144 has been imposed across Uttar Pradesh.

Special focus is being given to Ayodhya. Different tiers of security zones have been created there and each visitor is being scanned.

Emergency Operations Centre Set Up In Lucknow

An emergency operations centre has been set up in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, to keep an eye on reports from media, social media and other sources on Ayodhya verdict, even as thousands of security personnel fanned out to various parts of the state to prevent any untoward incident.

The centre has been set up at "112 Headquarters", named after the emergency contact telephone number.

"In this centre, representatives of CRPF, RPF, BSF, SSB, ITBP, CISF and GRP are also present and it will work for 24 hours," UP-112 Additional Director General Asim Aurn said on Saturday. “Zone-wise desks have been set up to monitor reports from the media, social media and information from other sources.”

Depending on situation, additional forces will be rushed to places, if needed, the officer said. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also visited the centre with Director General of Police OP Singh.

Rajasthan

All schools and colleges in Rajasthan are closed on Saturday in view of the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot gave directions to officials late on Friday night to ensure that schools and colleges are closed as a precautionary measures. Elaborate security arrangements have been made and additional police personnel deployed in sensitive areas, Director General (law and order) ML Lather said.

Man Arrested For Putting Up Objectionable Post On Social Media

A 30-year-old man was arrested for putting up an objectionable post related to the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case on social media in Rajasthan's Bikaner district, police said on Saturday.

The accused has been identified as Sri Krishn, a resident of Kharda village.

He put up the objectionable post on his Facebook page on Friday night. The post was traced by a surveillance team following which a search was on for the accused, SHO Napasar police station Sandeep Kumar said.

Kumar said the accused was visiting his native village to attend a marriage ceremony and had put up the post in an inebriated condition.

The accused has been arrested under Sections 118 and 151 of the CrPc.

Jammu & Kashmir

Restrictions were imposed in Jammu & Kashmir on Saturday in the wake of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, officials said.

Restrictions under Section 144 came into force in Jammu & Kashmir around midnight after the director general of police chaired a high-level meeting to review the security situation, officials said.

They said adequate security measures have been taken to maintain law and order. The restrictions are in place as a precautionary measure, the officials said.

Residents said policemen on vehicles fitted with public address system made announcements before dawn informing people about the imposition of the prohibitory orders and closure of all educational institutions.

Exams slated for Saturday have been deferred and fresh dates will be announced, the officials said, adding that Saturday will be a dry day and no bursting of crackers will be allowed anywhere.

Chairing a high-level meeting on Friday evening, DGP Dilbag Singh said religious places and places of worship must be protected and “any attempt to create any communal trouble must be neutralised with suitable advance action”, an official said.

Singh also advised district authorities to discourage religious processions in sensitive areas. “The officers must work out their plans and implement them on the ground. There should be clarity of thought while devising plans and executing them,” he said.

Officials said adequate deployment has been made at vulnerable pockets.

Gujarat

Police in Gujarat are on high alert in view of the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya land title dispute case. Police personnel are deployed in sensitive areas and patrolling has been intensified on streets, said CID (crime and railways) Ashish Bhatia.

In Ahmedabad, witness to communal riots in the past, as many as 26 companies of the SRPF have been deployed to help local police in maintaining law and order.

“Senior police officers will remain in their areas. Patrolling in sensitive areas is being done. We are also keeping a close watch on anti-social elements. Hotels and vehicles are also being checked since the last (Friday) night,” said Bhatia, who handles additional charge as Ahmedabad police commissioner.

He said companies of the Rapid Action Force will be deployed, if needed.

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu was put under a thick security blanket with vital installations—including airports, railway stations and other public places—on strict vigil.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami appealed to all sections of the society to maintain peace and harmony. All should respect the verdict, he said in a statement.

"The Amma (late Jayalalithaa) government is ensuring good law and order in Tamil Nadu and people are maintaining communal harmony and brotherhood," he said.

He sought the cooperation of all sections including, leaders of various faiths and political parties, besides people in this connection.

Punjab And Haryana

Officials in Punjab and Haryana on Saturday reviewed law and order situation in their states. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh held a meeting with DGP Dinkar Gupta and directed the officers to remain on high alert and take all steps to ensure peace and harmony in the state, an official spokesman said.

Singh has asked police to keep tab on suspected troublemakers, and take immediate and stern action against anyone found trying to disturb law and order in Punjab, he said. Peace is of utmost importance and nobody will be allowed to disturb it under any circumstances, Singh said.

Haryana's Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Navdeep Singh Virk said the police have made all arrangements to maintain law and order in the state.

Necessary instructions were issued earlier and additional personnel have been allotted to some districts. Peace committees have been formed in sensitive districts and areas, he said.

Himachal Pradesh

The Himachal Pradesh Police has issued a warning against the circulation of fake news in the wake of the Supreme Court's verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

Strict penal action will be taken against those who indulge in circulation of fake news, morphed pictures, doctored videos or any inflammatory material, said Solan SP Madhusudan Sharma in a statement.

"Everyone is requested to not forward any such posts. Solan police advises all citizens to maintain peace and harmony at all costs," he said.

West Bengal

The West Bengal government has put all the police stations on high alert on Saturday. The police has been directed to be very cautious as the day coincided with Milad-un-Nabi.

"We have arranged for static and mobile police forces in all the sensitive areas of the state keeping in mind Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict and the celebrations of Milad-un-Nabi," a senior official of the home department said on Saturday.

Police personnel have been posted outside mosques and other places where arrangements for celebration of the Milad-un-Nabi have been made.

"We do not want to take any chance and will stop any attempt to disrupt peace and harmony in West Bengal. Anybody attempting to create disturbance will be tackled as per the law," the police officer said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Thursday appealed for peace, saying "stay calm because unity and integrity are important aspects of our country."

Telangana

Security has been tightened in Telangana to prevent any untoward incidents in view of the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case on Saturday.

The state police has appealed to the citizens to not believe rumours, including those on social media, and warned of stringent action against those indulging in spreading false information.

The Director General of Police held a teleconference with all unit officers on Saturday morning and discussed security measures, a senior police official said.

"We are keeping a watch over the situation...we are taking all preventive steps. Security has been enhanced in sensitive areas in Hyderabad and other parts of the state," the official said.

Meetings have been held with all community leaders, who have been requested to cooperate and counsel respective community members not to resort to anything untoward.

"Special deployment has been done in the sensitive areas in the city. A watch is kept on mischief mongers including their social media accounts,” another senior police official said. He asked the public to dial 100 in case of any suspicious activity.

Jharkhand

The Jharkhand government has directed deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of all the 24 districts of the state to remain on high alert round-the-clock for one week in the wake of the Supreme Court's judgement in the Ayodhya case.

Chief Secretary DK Tiwari directed all district administrations to keep security forces in "alert-mode", an official release said here. He directed the DCPs and SPs not to give permission for any religious or social functions as of now.

Tiwari said government offices should remain open for all days for one week and those officials who are on leave should return to duty immediately.

The DCPs and SPs are permitted to take decisions while monitoring localities, he said, adding there should be continuous police patrolling so that peace-loving people can feel secure and a vigil kept on anti-social elements.

Officials have also been instructed to keep a vigil on social media to prevent rumours, ensure action on any objectionable content and issue denials of such contents. The DCs and SPs should take every piece of information seriously and inform the state headquarters, Tiwari said.

Karnataka

The Karnataka government has announced a holiday for schools and colleges, while stepping up security across the state

"The situation is good everywhere. Elaborate arrangements have been made. In sensitive areas, extra precautions have been taken," Amar Kumar Pandey, additional director general of police (law and order) told the Press Trust of India.

Seventy platoons of Karnataka State Reserve Police Force were deployed, besides stationing two paramilitary companies in Bengaluru and Mangaluru. The security arrangements in Bengaluru would be assisted by the Central Reserved Police Force while the Rapid Action Force would be deployed in Mangaluru.

"Depending on the situation, the Central Paramilitary can be deployed in any part of the state. All our policemen, leaving the skeletal staff to manage the police station, have been deployed," Pandey said.

He added that pickets, patrolling and striking force are in position.

(With inputs from PTI)

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