The Maharashtra Government is under pressure to deliver and restore normalcy in Pune, a city under the dark clouds of communal tensions. Matters get tricky with the state elections due by the year end. In the heat of the moment, politicians of the present ruling party are leading into quite a few fumbles.
In a recent development reported by IE, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar Monday suggested banning social media only to retract his statement minutes later. He was speaking in the context of rising instances of violence in the state which has noticed communal tensions due to derogatory content posting on Facebook. “The recent incidents have taken a toll on the society. China had adopted a two-year ban on social media. The government and the Opposition must press for a similar clamp down when we meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Pawar said
However in a few minutes he did a U-turn and said that what he meant was some kind of regulation be implemented on social and mobile networks such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. “I am not against freedom of the social media but there must be some kind of regulation on it.”
Earlier Home Minister R.R. Patil had informed that, “The Maharashtra government is considering action against not only those who post objectionable posts on social networking sites like Facebook but also those who “like” and forward them.”
While Patil considers that social networking sites are used around the world for good purposes, he also considers that certain anti-social elements are using social networking sites for sinister purposes as is evident from the recent incidents in Maharashtra. He further added that, “Also, those who “like” and forward such objectionable material are in a manner endorsing these culprits and would face stringent action soon.”
It is yet not clear how can the Maharashtra Government arrest or punish people who might do all the said activities anonymously. IP tracking can be misled in various ways. In fact the recent announcement by RR Patil claiming that the Pune Facebook case is solved, is also based on flimsy grounds as the police department is still not sure how it can arrest the culprits.
Additionally, after the initial tensions in Pune the state government had written to social media sites, such as Facebook, to evolve a system where the cyber security authorities could easily trace those involved in posting “objectionable” and “communally or socially sensitive” matters. It is surprising since the Mumbai Police had been working on setting up a ‘Social Monitoring Lab’ from early 2013.
Nevertheless, right now it seems that the Maharashtra Government and the police department are not in sync as well as clueless in terms of tackling social media. While monitoring of content on social media is required in the present time, the department will have to invest and brainstorm seriously on its execution. May be it can talk to the Delhi police which is about to set up a cell for social media content monitoring.