Aug. 17: The threat text message behind the scare may have originated in the Northeast, police in Bangalore suggested as the scale of the false propaganda and doctored images that spread the tension became clearer today.
The text message seems to have been circulated mainly in the Northeast, which is why few of the panicky people outside could show it to reporters.
“It’s a request to everyone to call their relative, sons and daughters at Bangalore to call them back as soon as possible. Last night 4 NE guys were killed...” it went.
“The texts may have started off from the Northeast; else other people would have received it too,” senior Bangalore police officer V.S. D’Sousa said while adding that the source hadn’t yet been pinpointed.
Last weekend’s Mumbai protest was not only against killings in Assam but also against atrocities against Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where the past few months have witnessed sporadic clashes.
Websites like mumblingminion.blogspot.in have now shown how the gruesome Internet pictures — purportedly of killings in Myanmar — were actually doctored images used for propaganda. One of the photographs is purportedly of a group of Myanmarese Buddhist monks overseeing the disposal of hundreds of corpses, and carries an inflammatory caption.
However, the website showed that the maroon-robed monks are Tibetan, not Myanmarese, and the slain are victims of the deadly 2010 earthquake. Even the Tibetan government-in-exile expressed concern to the Centre over the propaganda earlier this week.
“It was this propaganda that fanned flames in Mumbai,” said Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast) in the Union home ministry.
The propaganda clubbed the purported “Myanmar” pictures with India’s Northeast, which neighbours Myanmar, leading to stray attacks such as the stabbing of a Tibetan in Karnataka on Tuesday.
This sort of propaganda may have been the inspiration behind a violent protest in Lucknow today by a mob of 2,000 that marched towards the Assembly and damaged cars, stoned the police, attacked journalists, vandalised government offices and forcibly shut shops.
They were shouting slogans against the violence in Assam and Myanmar. Principal secretary (home) R.M. Srivastava’s vehicle came under attack but he escaped unhurt. Similar protests were seen in Allahabad and Kanpur.
Motorbike-riding gunmen shot a man dead in Assam’s riot-hit Chirang district around 7pm today. Victim Hasim Ali, 35, owned a pharmacy.