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How rumours travel in a surcharged communal environment

Friday January 14, 2011 07:28:56 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: After the demolition of a mosque in south Delhi, rioting and protests by local people in Jangpura were fanned by rumours and hearsay with the area legislator doing his bit to trigger tensions, eyewitnesses say.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished the mosque in Jangpura Wednesday. According to DDA officials, the mosque had been illegally built on government land. More than 1,000 protesters had gathered outside the Hazrat Nizamuddin police station and in nearby Jangpura area and blocked roads, demanding reconstruction of the structure.

The violent protests prompted police to use force and teargas.

According to eyewitnesses, the protests had remained peaceful till a local politician arrived at the scene.

The local politician also told IANS that three youngsters were killed by police during the protest on the dispute site and 70 people were missing. "They didn't give the dead bodies to us," he said as the local people listened in. He even claimed that the bodies had been sent outside Delhi to ensure that they were not discovered.

But a senior police officer told IANS that there was no truth to the allegation.

The news imparted by the politician was immediately sent across the city through text messages.

Just like in the game, Chinese whispers, these messages got progressively distorted as they spread. "I got a SMS saying that three children had been killed by a person from a specific community. It was very disturbing," said Ramakant Pandey, a chauffeur.

 

 

 

 

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