NEW DELHI: The Indian home secretary has accused websites in Pakistan of spreading false rumours that caused thousands of people from India's remote northeast to panic and flee from southern and western India. They feared they would be attacked in retaliation for ethnic violence in their home state.
Home Secretary R K Singh said investigators had found that most of the websites 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.
Singh said India would discuss the matter with officials in Pakistan but gave no other details about the websites.
However, Pakistan denied the allegations. "We totally reject the allegations in this report," a statement by Pakistan government yesterday said. "We find these allegations baseless and unfounded. Such unsubstantiated and irresponsible statements will not help create the conducive environment we wish to create."
Meanwhile, two northeast Indians died and nine others were injured after they were apparently pushed from a moving train yesterday, an Indian Railway official said. The incident is believed to have happened near the Jalpaiguri railway station in West Bengal, close to Assam.
"Two persons died, four are critically wounded and five suffered minor injuries," the official said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The exodus followed clashes in Assam state in recent weeks between ethnic Bodos and Muslims settlers that killed more than 50 people and displaced 400,000 others. The largest number of people fled Bangalore. News reports said people also left some other cities in southern and western India. Those fleeing said they had heard text messages had been circulating threatening retaliatory attacks by Muslims.