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Last Updated Friday May 24 2019 03:38 AM IST

Former RSS activist held for hartal call on WhatsApp

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Hartal Shops shut during hartal in Kerala

Tirur: The police have arrested a 20-year-old former RSS activist, believed to be the prime conspirator behind the communally charged social media messages that triggered widespread violence in the April 16 flash hartal.

Amarnath Baiju, 20, from Thenmala, was reportedly engaged in a smear campaign against the RSS for expelling him.

Amarnath was an admin of the WhatsApp groups 'Voice of Truth' and 'Voice of Sisters' that had spearheaded the hartal call.

Apart from him, M J Cyril, 22, Sudheesh, 22, Gokul Shekhar, 21, and Akhil, 23 were arrested by the police for circulating communally charged messages.

Earlier in the day, a 10th standard student, another 'administrator' of the WhatsApp group, 'Voice of Truth' had landed in police net. His phone records are being examined.

An unofficial hartal that mobilised cadre from social media had paralysed Kerala, especially the northern parts, protesting the Kathua rape and murder where an 8-year-old tribal girl was brutalised and murdered in a Hindu temple.

Police have arrested over 900 people from different parts of the state in connection with the incident.

According to the police, the hate mongering messages and the hartal call spread through this group were the initial trigger for the violent protests.

Police have been making mass arrests of people who instigated violence and have been slapping various charges against the arrested including promoting religious enmity, attacking police officers, rioting and unlawful assembly. The police said they could also slap the stringent POCSO act on the arrested people if it is proven that they circulated the name or images of the Kathua rape victim.

Fake admins?

Police also doubt that the real admins of the group had made the boy a scapegoat and quit fearing a possible police crackdown. To ascertain facts, police are verifying the mobile phones seized from various youths. Sixteen children have been arrested so far on charges of violence and have been shifted to juvenile homes.

Meanwhile a few Palakkad residents have approached High Court for anticpatory bail in the wake of the police registering FIR against them for unlawful assembly, blocking vehicles and an attempt to destroy flags of BJP. They are Puthunagaram natives Mohammed Ansari, Sulfiqar Ali, Firoz Khan, Sikander Basha, Kaja Hussain, Sirajuddin, Najimuddin and Mohammed Ali.

A 25-year-old youth, Shefeque,was arrested for blocking a judge's vehicle on the road on the hartal day by the Tirur police. Shefeque was earlier accused of a police station attack case.

Read more Kerala news

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