Panic images: Govt points finger at Pak

New Delhi/BANG-ALORE/CHENNAI/PUNE: Bulk of the rumours that triggered panic among people of northeastern states in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were sourced from Pakistan, Union Home Secretary R K Singh said on Saturday.

“A total of 76 websites were identified where morphed images were uploaded and bulk of these were uploaded in Pakistan,” Singh told PTI.

“Morphed images and photographs of people who had died in cyclones and earthquakes were circulated as victims of violence in Myanmar in 76 websites. All these websites have been blocked. 34 more sites were identified and they will also be blocked soon,” he said.

“We believe it is highly reprehensible. I think it needs to be made known to everybody that this is something that is being done from Pakistan. The bulk of it has been done from Pakistan,” he said.

The Home Secretary said the issue will be raised with Pakistan. “We will raise this issue with Pakistan. I am certain they will refute it but our technical team of experts is certain about the origin,” he said.

As a step towards rumours being spread, Government had on Friday imposed a 15-day ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes. Karnataka and Assam police are looking for some people who were responsible for circulating SMSes, he said, adding that no linkages have been found between those arrested and any known terrorist group.

“But one of our agencies has identified another person who has been arrested. He has indicated certain linkages which are being investigated,” he said.

Meanwhile, the exodus of people from the northeast from Karnataka to their home states driven by fears of attacks subsided on Saturday but there was no let up for the third consecutive day in the numbers of those fleeing Chennai and Pune.

In Bangalore, railway officials said the number of those wanting to leave the city had dwindled following assurances from the Centre and the state government as also deployment of six companies of the Rapid Action Force in the city. About 30,000 northeast people have left the city in the last three days.

In Chennai, people from northeast continued to exit the city for the third day with hundreds thronging the railway station and heading back home.

The Pune railway station witnessed fear-stricken residents crowding the ticket counters in large numbers, desperate to head to their home states.

The Centre on Saturday said adequate protection is being given by state governments to these people and termed as “false” and “fabricated” reports to the contrary. “Protection is being given by state governments. Some miscreants, undesirable elements and anti-social elements are spreading rumours that there is no protection to people of the northeast in South India. It is unwarranted. It is totally false and fabricated to create panic among people”, minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy told reporters.

Police patrolling was stepped up in Bangalore in areas prominently inhabited by people from the northeastern states, officials said.

Unlike the past few days, no special trains were announced on Saturday. Over a 100 from the northeast waited outside the city railway station to leave for their home states, fearing reprisals for the Assam violence.

“Based on ticket sales, we will arrange for special trains. As of now, the sales are slow paced,” a senior official said. Special trains will be considered once ticket sales crosses 2,500 a day, he said.

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