No check on unregistered social media news pages, groups in Kashmir

Srinagar: With increase in rumor mongering, there is no check on unregistered WhatsApp and Facebook news groups in Kashmir.

Kashmir has always been a fertile ground for rumors. History is a witness to many instances where rumors drove the valleyities to despair.

In 2016, the government issued a circular that mandates the registration of WhatsApp news groups. Government also directed the operators of social media news agencies to obtain proper permission from the concerned deputy commissioners for posting news on social media news groups along with sources.

The aim of this regulation was to curb the spread of rumours on groups.

The circular was issued in the backdrop of rumors spread on Facebook and WhatsApp that infants had died after administration of polio vaccine. Subsequently, the hordes of panic-stricken parents ran berserk, rushing their children to the nearby hospitals for check-up. Five years down the line, no preventive measures have been taken by the authorities.

In social media it has found a suitable ally that gives rumour wings like never before. Yet, the government has failed to come up with a policy to regulate social media despite several attempts to do so.

A police official said that the government had blocked several Facebook pages and WattsApp groups where people had posted false information. “Now there are thousands of such pages and groups and we find it difficult to keep proper surveillance on them. There should be a policy for regulation of social media news pages,” he told a local news gathering agency.

He said those who are found involved in cyber-crime of posting false information are to be booked under the IT Act with minimum and maximum punishment of six-months and two-years respectively.

Few years before, Kashmir witnessed wave of terror in the form of “braid-chopping”. In a bid to catch the braid choppers, many people became victims of mob violence based on mere suspicion and false rumors. Many rumour mongers were arrested, but the practice continues unabated.

Another police official asked, “Why should everything be left to the police? We already have law and order problems to deal with. Let the other departments of the government also take note of it and work towards addressing the menace of rumor mongering,” the official added. (KINS)

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