Conflict & Justice

India says doctored images used to spur ethnic violence originated in Pakistan


An Indian villager walks amidst the debris of his burnt house in the northeastern state of Assam.


Diptendu Dutta

A top Indian official alleged that the inflammatory images blamed for inciting ethnic violence in Mumbai were doctored and posted online by web sites based in Pakistan.

According to the Associated Press, "Home Secretary R.K. Singh told reporters late Saturday that investigators had found that most of the web sites used images of people killed in cyclones and earthquakes and passed them off as Muslims killed in violence earlier this year to spread fear of revenge attacks. He said most of the images were uploaded from Pakistan. The sites have now been blocked."

Following a July clash between members of the Bodo tribe and Bengali speaking Muslims in Assam, where nearly 80 people were killed and some 300,000 people driven from their homes, inflammatory statements and images posted on social networks and spread by text message sparked retaliatory violence from Muslims in Mumbai. Afterward, rumors of more attacks caused a mass exodus of northeasterners from cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Pune, despite assurances by the authorities that the situation was under control.

The Muslim festival of  Eid-ul-Fitr -- which marks the end of Ramadan --- passed uneventfully on Monday. But Bangalore had already deployed vast numbers of security personnel from the Rapid Action Force (RAF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Karnataka State Reserved Police (KSRP) and City Armed Police (CAR), the Hindustan Times reported.

Meanwhile, Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik told reporters that home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had asked him to crack down on the web sites spreading malicious messages during an annual phone call to exchange Eid greetings. However, he denied any knowledge of messages being sent from Pakistani territory.

"I have told Shinde that Pakistan came to know of the Assam issue only from the media. I promised him all cooperation from our side if India could provide evidence," Malik said, according to HT.