Internet services in Aligarh and Agra have been shut down ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute. The services were shut down shortly after midnight.
Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police O P Singh said that Internet shutdown could be imposed in other districts as and when the situation demands to check spread of communally sensitive posts and rumours.
“Our social media cells are keeping constant watch on 673 people active on Internet whose post or comments can trigger trouble. Our policemen have identified potential threats and hotspots at district, police station and locality levels. We have also identified 31 sensitive districts such as Agra, Aligarh, Meerut, Moradabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur and others to maintain rule of law,” he said.
Singh said that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in the state.
Panic buying was seen late on Friday in Lucknow as soon as news of the Supreme Court verdict to be out on Saturday was announced.
People rushed out to get petrol, diesel, vegetates and withdraw money from ATMs. The maximum rush was seen in parts of the old city that has a sizeable Muslim population.
The vegetable market in Chowk was reopened after 11 pm
and people bought large quantities of vegetables in apprehension of trouble in
Long lines were seen at petrol pumps as people queued up for refuelling. Most of the ATMs in the state capital had run out of cash by midnight as people withdrew money.
From early on Saturday too, people queued up to buy milk and other essentials.
In Ayodhya, security was heightened from late on Friday, with 4,000 additional paramilitary forces. The temple town has turned into a fortress of sorts.
All entry points to the holy city were completely sealed after midnight and two helicopters — one in Lucknow and one in Ayodhya — have been kept on standby.
A state-level control room has been set up in Lucknow, whereas every district will have its own control room.
The railway police issued a seven-page advisory to all its zones giving them a slew of instructions on security preparedness, sources said. The advisory from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) said leave of all its personnel have been cancelled and they have been instructed to be engaged in escorting trains.