The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Wednesday launched a major crackdown on the social media operators and the news agencies who, according to senior officials, have indulged in promoting a “well-orchestrated campaign” against polling in Srinagar-Budgam constituency.

Polling is underway in this Central Kashmir constituency in Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts as among the 14 candidates, National Conference supremo and Union Cabinet Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah is seeking mandate for his third Lok Sabha term.

Inspector General of Police Abdul Gani Mir told The Hindu that about 50 Facebook users were found promoting the Hurriyat-sponsored boycott campaign to reduce the turnout by intimidating and influencing the aspiring voters with “baseless data and rumours”. He said that criminal cases against these “anti-polling elements” were being registered under the Information Technology Act as well as the Peoples Representatives Act in consultation with the Election authorities.

“We have already registered certain cases and more are being registered today. We have so far identified 12 of such objectionable pages on Facebook which we are currently blocking with the help of NIC. It’s a tedious process. We are approaching a court for necessary orders, followed by the Central Government authorities in New Delhi.  As of now these pages are operating but we will remove them all in next two days,” IGP Kashmir said.

Mr. Mir said that action was also underway against some local news agencies which are also involved in the anti-election campaign by simply copying and pasting the “baseless, malicious, virulent content” without seeking necessary clarifications from the authorities. “We are also booking these news agencies in criminal cases as they are only promoting the boycott campaign which is sponsored by separatist groups and militants,” Mr. Mir said.

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