NEW DELHI: Days after large-scale riots in northeast Delhi, the capital was again put on edge on Sunday evening as rumours spread rapidly about “violence” in different parts of the city. Such was the impact of the rumours that
shut seven stations briefly as a precautionary measure.
The first rumours were heard around 7.30pm about “violence” in Madanpur Khadar in southeast Delhi, close to Shaheen Bagh. This was followed by social media posts about “clashes” in west Delhi’s
and neighbouring areas. “Reports” also started floating about violence in other places, including Faridabad. However, police acted swiftly this time, putting a lid on the rumours through prompt social media posts and other measures. Cops also arrested two people for rumour-mongering.
As rumours abound, people call up relatives out of fearMost of the rumours were spread via WhatsApp groups and Twitter. DCP west Delhi was among the first police officials to react. At 8.17pm, the DCP tweeted, “Rumour is the biggest enemy. A rumour has been noticed that there is some tension in Khyala-Raghubir Nagar area of west district. There is no truth behind it. All are requested to keep calm as the situation is absolutely normal & peaceful.”
At 8.32pm, two posts in the Delhi Police’s Twitter handle asked people not to fall prey to rumours and not forward unverified messages while maintaining calm. Police deployment was also stepped up in the areas named in the rumours to avoid any flare-ups.
Earlier, at 7.53pm, Delhi Metro tweeted that the entry and exit gates of the Tilak Nagar stations had been closed. Half an hour later, it announced that six other stations — Nangloi, Surajmal Stadium, Badarpur, Tughlakabad,
west and Nawada— had been shut.
At 8.40pm, DMRC announced that all stations had been opened. Sources said that police suspected a conspiracy behind such large-scale rumor-mongering, which they said had taken place in a “coordinated manner”. The cyber cell has started a thorough probe.
Several twitter handles had been identified for spreading fake news of clashes, an officer said. In south-east Delhi, police received multiple calls of clashes and riots as people from Madanpur Khadar and
called up the control room seeking help and informing them about “violence”. In the Khadar area, police are probing if a mild commotion about some thief being caught at a shop led to locals spreading news. In no time, rumours had started about “stone-pelting” in Baljeet Nagar, Patel Nagar and
In Khayala, police said there was some commotion as local cops had caught some gamblers indulging in satta (illegal betting). Sources said that when caught, the accused apparently tried to escape screaming “riot”, which led to a commotion. In Mangolpuri, local police carried out flag march and went around telling people to not fall for rumours.
By 8pm, WhatsApp groups of RWAs across the city were abuzz with people forwarding messages of “riots” breaking out in their areas. People from across the city were calling up their friends and relatives about their well-being.
The district DCPs soon started tweeting from their individual accounts, asking people to not spread rumours and help maintain peace.
Many SHOs and even senior officers released videos on WhatsApp groups announcing that there was absolute peace in their areas.