Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

India Wants Inquiry by Pakistan on Link to Panic

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

India Wants Inquiry by Pakistan on Link to Panic

Article excerpt

India's top domestic security official said Sunday that "elements based in Pakistan" had orchestrated a misinformation campaign that helped set off a nationwide panic last week among migrants from India's isolated northeastern states.

India's top domestic security official on Sunday called on the Pakistani government to investigate Indian claims that "elements based in Pakistan" had orchestrated a fear-mongering misinformation campaign using text messages and social media that helped set off last week's nationwide panic among migrants from India's isolated northeastern states.

The official, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, speaking by telephone with his Pakistani counterpart, Rehman Malik, asked for "full cooperation" in "checking and neutralizing such elements," according to a Home Ministry statement. His telephone call came a day after the ministry's second-ranking official said doctored images of bodies had been messaged to thousands of northeastern migrants living in several of India's major urban centers.

"We want people to know that the bulk of this was done from Pakistan," The home secretary, R.K. Singh, told reporters in New Delhi on Saturday night. He added: "A total of 76 Web sites were identified where morphed images were uploaded, and the bulk of these were uploaded in Pakistan."

The Indian news agency IANS quoted an anonymous Pakistani official denying any involvement. Calling India's claims "cooked up," the official told the agency that "instead of indulging in mud- slinging and the blame game, it's time for India to address its internal issues."

For much of last week, India witnessed a panicked exodus by tens of thousands of northeastern migrants working in major cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Pune -- a mass departure linked to a vicious communal fight between Muslims and the indigenous Bodo tribe in the northeastern state of Assam.

The violence in Assam, rooted in a complex local dispute over land, immigration and political power, has claimed at least 78 lives as more than 14,000 homes have been burned. …

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