Tension is brewing between people of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam as rumours and unsolicited social media posts are trying to ‘find’ a rift between the people of the two neighbour states.
Recent unfortunate incidents of road accidents at Tezu, Biswanath Chariali and Dibrugarh along with attack on a government-run bus near Balipara and cases of looting near Bogibeel Bridge, has led to spreading of rumours about Arunachal-Assam conflict.
On July 3, an accident in Dibrugarh involving a motorcycle and a car with Arunachal Pradesh registration, led to a major scuffle as two persons died while three others were seriously injured. While the occupants of the car were not from Arunachal, rumours quickly spread that ‘people from Arunachal were brutally attacked in Dibrugarh’.
On June 25, miscreants attacked an Arunachal Pradesh State Transport (APST) night-service bus travelling from Itanagar to Shillong at Balipara. The wind-shield and window panes were smashed with stones. The driver of the bus was injured. The photographs of the damaged bus went viral on the social media with thousands condemning the incident.
While such cases of stone-pelting on night-service buses are not new, this incident was also given an Assam versus Arunachal angle by many on the social media.
Incidentally, when another APST bus on the same route met with an accident with a motorcycle near Biswanath Chariali on June 29, it caught fire. Two persons died in the accident. The photographs of the bus on fire were shared alongside captions which read: APST bus attacked in Assam, set on fire.
On June 30, a college student in Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh died after being hit by a speeding bike. The rider was part of an 8-member group from Assam, who were on a visit to the Arunachal Pradesh town. Soon after the incident, a mob gathered and set 4 bikes on fire. Some covered the story as ‘bikes from Assam set on fire in Arunachal Pradesh’.
Earlier on June 21, a person from Likabali in Arunachal Pradesh was looted near the Bogibeel Bridge while he was on way to Dibrugarh for medical treatment of his relative. The victim shared a video after the incident which went viral on the social media. While the Dibrugarh Police nabbed the gang of dacoits, certain messages in the social media indicated a sense of fear for the people travelling to the Assam town.
These recent unfortunate incidents, involving people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, are being used by rumour mongers to spread hatred. Acknowledging the spread of rumours in the July 3 accident-clash in Dibrugarh, Additional SP Dhruba Bora said that because the car was registered in Arunachal Pradesh, rumours began to spread giving an Assam versus Arunachal angle to the whole incident. “No person from Arunachal Pradesh was involved in the accident. The car was registered in Arunachal Pradesh but the occupants were from Assam. We urge everyone not to believe in rumours and refrain from forwarding such messages,” he had said.