Authorities imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits gathering of more than four people, in Mumbai on Saturday. The prohibitory orders will be in place till 11 am on Sunday.
The restrictions were imposed while a five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, directed the Centre to set up a trust to construct a Ram temple on a disputed land in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, and provide an alternative plot to the Muslim side for a mosque. The Babri Masjid stood on the disputed site before being demolished by Hindutva activists in 1992. The demolition had sparked riots in Mumbai.
At least 40,000 police personnel have been deployed in the city and the situation is being monitored from the police control room using drones and live CCTV footage, PTI reported. “We are prepared to tackle any eventuality,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranay Ashok. “We are also monitoring online activities through our social media wing. We will block objectionable posts and content as need be to ensure that no rumours are spread.”
Meanwhile, restrictions were also imposed in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Internet services were discontinued in several areas of Uttar Pradesh, including Aligarh, Ayodhya and Agra districts, IANS reported. Section 144 was also put in place across Karnataka, and five police station limits in Kerala’s Kasaragod district.
Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh claimed that internet shutdown may be imposed in other districts in accordance with the prevailing situation. “Our social media cells are keeping constant watch on 673 people active on Internet whose post or comments can trigger trouble,” he said. “Our policemen have identified potential threats and hotspots at district, police station and locality levels.”
Singh said 31 “sensitive districts” had been identified, including Agra, Aligarh, Meerut, Moradabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur.
Internet was also shut down in Rajasthan’s Jaipur commissionerate. Section 144 has been imposed in the city, and police personnel have been deployed to sensitive areas. Around 1.5 lakh police officials in the state have been asked to remain alert.
“Social media is being monitored,” said Police Commissioner Anand Shrivastav in Jaipur. “WhatsApp groups spreading hate messages have been identified and are being deleted.” He said that action would be taken against those spreading hateful messages, and urged people not to be influenced by rumours.
Mobile internet services in Bharatpur district have been suspended till 6 am on Sunday in anticipation of the judgement.
In Delhi, security outside the residences of the five judges on the Constitution Bench was stepped up ahead of the verdict. Apart from Gogoi, the other members of the Bench are Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
Restrictions were put in place in the entire Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory at midnight as a precautionary measure, PTI reported.