Havoc spread among citizens in the city after text messages with rumours about North-eastern people murdered in Neelasandra near the passport office and other parts of the city were sent to thousands of mobile phones across several service providers.
Several messages that say ‘four north-eastern guys were killed by Muslims in Bangalore (two Manipuri, two Nepali). Two Nepali girls were kidnapped from Brigade Road)’ or ‘Two boys were killed in Neelasandra, and one near passport office’ are floating around causing panic. While citizens wonder why service providers are not censoring such SMSes, Express took a look at some of these rumours.
One SMS said: It is a request to everyone to call back their relatives, sons and daughters in Bangalore as soon as possible. Last night four north-eastern guys were killed by Muslims in Bangalore (two Manipuri, two Nepali). Two Nepali girls were kidnapped from Brigade Road. The reports say that from August 20, marking Ramzan, after 2 pm they are going to attack every North-eastern person. The riot started was because of the situation in Assam.
Another SMS said: Many Northeast students staying in Pune were beaten up by miscreants believed to be Muslims following the Assam riots. Heard that it is happening in Muslim areas like Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Bangalore. At Neelasandra two boys were killed and one near passport office.
“The TRAI already has a rule in place which does not allow mobile service providers to circulate bulk messages. The panic SMSes being circulated now are being generated by individuals and sent to a large number of recipients. We do not have access to the ‘contents’ of these messages and so we cannot check and censor each message. The reason behind this is that in another context it would be a ‘breach of privacy’,” said an official from Airtel.
However, Sibichen K Mathew, Advisor for Karnataka and Kerala (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) said: “If these SMSes are being sent in bulk, they can be easily tracked since they have to register with us. The details of bulk SMS senders are available on our website and we have already informed the Crime Branch.”
He said TRAI was already tracking the senders of such messages although the primary responsibility lay with the telephone service operators. “Tracking individual senders may not be that easy, but it is possible,” he said when asked if mobile phone service providers had access to content of SMSes.