Dozens detained in India over Ayodhya site social media comments – World

Indian police arrested dozens of people for comments on social networks that allegedly threatened "community harmony" after the Supreme Court granted a sacred place, where a crowd demolished the 16th-century Babri mosque in 1992, to Hindus, officials said Monday.

The site, in the northern city of Ayodhya, has in the past caused religious disturbances that have left thousands dead.

Security forces have been on alert since the verdict was announced on Saturday and remained on the streets of the city when hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims began arriving on Monday before a religious festival.

Hindu and Muslim leaders have called for calm.

Police said social media posts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube had threatened "community harmony."

Read: Did the superior court legalize India's search for a theocratic state?

At least 77 people were arrested in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is located, after the decision of the Supreme Court, according to a police statement.

Authorities acted against more than 8,270 publications, with steps that included "informing publications to the social media platform" and "sending messages directly to the user to delete the message," the statement said.

In two cases, police ordered users to remove their social media profiles, a Uttar Pradesh police spokesman said.

More than 2,800 posts were posted on Twitter. There were 1,355 allegedly inflammatory comments on Facebook and 98 YouTube videos, authorities said.

Police crime units said they were using "sentiment analysis" programs to identify suspicious posts on social media. A senior Uttar Pradesh official said several WhatsApp groups were asked to restrict their activities, according to media reports.

Eight other arrests were reported in the central state of Madhya Pradesh for comments on social media.

A prison director in the city of Gwalior was also arrested for celebrating with fireworks after the victory for the Hindus.

A mosque had been on the site of Ayodhya for almost five centuries, but the Hindus claim that it was built at the birthplace of the warrior god Rama and a mafia demolished it in 1992, unleashing riots in which 2,000 people died.

Muslims will receive separate land in the city to build a new mosque under the ruling of the Supreme Court. Several Hindu nationalist leaders still face trial for the 1992 demolition. More than one million Hindu pilgrims are expected in Ayodhya on Tuesday for an annual full moon religious festival.



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