Sat Singh | Sep 19, 2017 | 4 min read
Sat Singh and Manoj Kumar
Chandigarh/Sirsa: Internet services will go dead by Thursday (August 24) evening in Haryana’s Sirsa, Panchkula and Fatehabad districts; and in Punjab’s Mansa, Bathinda, Mukhtsar, Taran Taran and Amritsar districts.
The decision to cut Internet services in these districts follows credible intelligence inputs in the context of the likely fallout if an adverse verdict is pronounced in the rape case against ‘Pitaji’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan on .
Large numbers of agitated supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief have gathered outside the CBI court in Panchkula, and in the Sirsa headquarters of the DSS. The police in both Punjab and Haryana are on a high alert.
Sources said lessons have been learned from Kashmir, and the 2016 Jat reservation stir in Rohtak, where Social Media is believed to have contributed to the eruption and spread of violence.
The police in Haryana have formed a team to monitor the ban on the Internet. The team of 25 tech-savvy police personnel, above the rank of sub-Inspector, is led by IGP (Telecommunication Wing) Paramjit Singh Ahlawat.
The team has been tasked to monitor the Internet ban in these districts and take prompt action against those who succeed in breaching the blockade.
Meanwhile, Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora said that the Punjab Police was monitoring Social Media accounts of Sikh hardliners.
Contacts have been made with those uploading objectionable content on Social Media platforms, and they have been told to remove them.
"If the controversial content is not removed, then action will be taken under due procedures," DGP Arora said.
Sources said that the Punjab Police has so far removed objectionable content from more than 9000 Social Media accounts.
To help the Haryana Police, the state government has roped in the services of 25 civilian cyber experts to ensure that nothing considered “restricted” breaches the Internet “blockade”.
Besides the dedicated team of experts based at the police headquarters in Panchkula, another smaller team has been at work in the Sirsa Police Lines.
Sirsa Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh said the police will take swift action against those who try to disturb the peace by spreading old videos related to Dera Sacha Sauda.
DSS chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been summoned to appear in person by the special CBI court in Panchkula on August 25. He is believed to be still in the DSS headquarters.
The cyber-police team of IGP Paramjit Singh Ahlawat and Superintendent of Police Vinod Kumar has also been co-coordinating with telecom companies to regulate Internet services.
Haryana home secretary Ram Niwas said the government cannot take chances.
Elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure cyber security by tying up with mobile service providers.
An official said the police cyber team “spotted” inflammatory and objectionable content in Social Media on Wednesday, which were removed before they “caught fire”.
The State Home Department said it has asked the team of IT experts to keep a tab on “statements issued in the name of government or institutions” posted by vested interests on the Net with the aim to spread rumours.
"The team is monitoring what’s going viral on Social Media and if it’s a rumour, then it has to be removed immediately. The competent authorities have been directed to take proper action," said a Home Department official.
Policemen armed with camera and recording devices have also been posted at sensitive locations in the districts to trash false information and rumour mongering.
Another four-member team under the IT Cell has been formed to deal exclusively with rumour mongering. This team will issue clarifications as and when required via the digital platform.
This team has already audited 1,55,000 accounts on Social Media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram associated with Dera Sacha Sauda in some or the other manner. A strict vigil is being kept on these accounts.
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