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Lynchings caused by rumours spread through social media, says government

Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Courtesy: Lok Sabha TV

The issue of mob violence and lynchings was discussed again in both Houses of Parliament on the second day of the monsoon session on Thursday and the government blamed the social media for the rise in such incidents. 

In the Lok Sabha, when the issue was raised by a Congress member, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said public order was a State subject and that his Ministry had issued advisories to the States twice — in 2016, and 2018. "This is not the first time such incidents are being reported. Lynchings have happened in the past as well," he said in Hindi. 

Terming the incidents of mob violence "unfortunate," Mr. Singh said many of these incidents were triggered by "unverified fake news" spread through social media. The government had taken up the issue with social media platforms and they have been asked to ensure that proper checks were installed in their platforms. 

Unhappy with the Minister's reply, the Congress staged a walkout. “The Home Minister’s statement in the Lok Sabha on mob lynching was not satisfactory at al. That is why we staged a walkout from the House. This is not a game of ping-pong that the States and the Centre keep shifting responsibilities,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor told news agency ANI.

Need for national policy on social media

In the Rajya Sabha, Bihar MP Harivansh spoke on need for having a national policy on social media, citing reports on its effect in the U.S. presidential election and the misuse of user data by Cambridge Analytica. He said it was "worrisome that many people have been lynched based on social media rumours."

In a strongly-worded speech, CPI member D. Raja said, "shouldn't we be ashamed that we are discussing mob lynching in the House calling ourselves a civilised society?" He alleged that the victims of mob violence were mostly Muslims, minorities and Dalits. 

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he had taken up the issue with a social media firm for taking steps to prevent users from spreading rumours.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 9:33:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-blames-social-media-for-the-spread-of-rumours-that-led-to-mob-lynchings/article24459732.ece

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