As racist and communal narratives take precedence over uniting to fight the coronavirus pandemic, authorities and the administration are putting their best foot forward to curb the barrage of hate and fake news being unleashed, mostly on minorities.
In light of the same, Jharkhand’s top cop Mandava. V. Rao has asked all district chiefs to sternly deal with anyone spreading a communal narrative amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Thursday evening, the Director General of Police, Jharkhand, Rao, took to Twitter to express his concern over the growing communal tones being spun around the crisis.
In his tweet he said, “It is very disturbing and disappointing to see that the venomous communal narrative is being spread in social media around the coronavirus pandemic. Rational thinking people know that no one whatever faith he practices is immune to the infection. When you are staring at the enemy threatening mankind, is it not absurd to fight among ourselves? Please think and act sensibly at this critical juncture. We (Jharkhand Police) are with you now and forever. Stringent possible action awaits those indulging in rumour mongering and spreading hatred.”
It is very very disturbing and disappointing to see that the venomous communal narrative is being spread in social media around #CoronavirusPandemic . Rational thinking people know that no one whatever faith he practices is immune to the infection. When you are starting at the
— Mandava V Rao (@MVRaoIPS) April 2, 2020
The Telegraph India reported Rao as saying, “The police have been directed to take stern action against anyone trying to spread content on social media which is intended to incite communal passion and cause panic and distress to a community. We will institute cases under Sections of the IPC and IT Act.”
Senior police officials said that people spreading such divisive communally charged messages could face preventive detention under CrPC 151, 295A of the IPC (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious or religious beliefs) and Section 66 of the IT Act (maximum of three years imprisonment and fine for sending offensive messages through a computer)
Seeing the upsurge in hate posts against a particular community after a Malaysian woman who had attended a religious congregation in Delhi tested positive for the virus while she stayed in Jharkhand, the Ranchi Police too took to Twitter to clearly say that it would not tolerate any hate speech amid this trying time.
— Jharkhand News (@WeAreJharkhand) April 3, 2020
CPI – ML Leader and Bagodar MLA Vinod Singh praised the efforts of the police. He said, “The DGP has taken the right decision. To fight the coronavirus pandemic it is essential to take strong action against those posting fake messages and content to spread hatred in the community. I would also like to request our chief minister Hemant Soren to form a ‘hate and fake control cell’ to keep a tab on such contents.”
These cells have since then been formed. The Superintendent of Police from the Crime Investigation Department (CID) said that special cells were set up in all 24 districts to trace messages with communal content. “Police stations can either take help of the seven cyber police stations or take help of technical cells functional at different districts to identify the individual or group spreading communally sensitive messages in social media. We have also asked all police stations to monitor WhatsApp groups. We will institute cases under IT Act and IPC,” said Janardhanan.
Uddhav Thackeray, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra too, reflecting a roaring sentiment said that he would save the citizens of Maharashtra from Covid-19, but all those found to be posting fake news and insinuating hatred, he would not save from the hands of the law.
We will save Maharashtra from this crisis. But, if someone circulates fake news or videos like commodities or notes being smeared with saliva or with inflammatory content, my law will catch up with them. They will not be spared. Dont do this even for fun.
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) April 4, 2020
Prior to this, speaking to The Hindu, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan had said, “A virus has no religion and it spreads not on the basis of any religion or community. Some forces are trying to communalise the situation. They have started a virulent campaign on social media. Such attempts will not succeed in a state like Kerala. There is no need of such intolerance. We will not tolerate it.
No one should set out with a hope that they could harvest communal political gains from this pandemic. There’s no such harvest waiting. Virus knows no religion, it also doesn’t differentiate. We’re all in this together. Remember, it takes all of us to win this battle. #COVID19
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 2, 2020