India withdraws ban on bulk text messages

Published Aug 30, 2012 11:50am

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Indian northeastern minority resident holding his mobile phone displaying a text message spreading rumours about their safety in the city, in Bangalore. — Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: India ended its ban on bulk text messages on Thursday, two weeks after imposing restrictions to halt the spread of threats and rumours that sparked an exodus of migrants fearing attack.

Tens of thousands of migrant workers and students from the remote northeast region fled home earlier this month due to reports that Muslims planned to target them in reprisal for recent ethnic clashes in the state of Assam.

Panicked crowds packed trains leaving Bangalore and other cities in the south and west of India in response to mobile phone text and video messages that warned of violence against people from the northeast.

The government responded by enforcing a ban on bulk messages, when the same text is sent to lots of recipients, and it also blocked some Internet pages to try to halt the spread of incendiary material that could fuel ethnic tensions.

“We reviewed our order and decided to withdraw the ban on bulk text and video clip messages with immediate effect,” Samir Sinha, spokesman for the home ministry, told AFP adding the Internet blocks would still stand.

Violence in the northeastern state of Assam between the Bodo community and Muslims has raged for more than a month, with an estimated 90 people killed and 400,000 people taking refuge in camps.


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