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India bans mass messaging on mosque riot fears

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The Indian government has slapped a 72-hour ban on mass text messaging ahead of potentially volatile court verdict on Friday.

A decision is due on the fate of a ruined mosque in Ayodhyra in Uttar Pradesh. Ayodrha was the scene of riots sparked by the destruction of the mosque which killed 2,000 people in 1992. The site is reputed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama.

The court's verdict, on several related issues, is due on Friday.

The telecoms ministry informed mobile operators of the 72-hour ban on all mass messaging yesterday, with the support of the Home Ministry. The ban will run until Saturday evening, the Hindustan Times reports.

Shri P Chidambaram, home minister, urged calm and said any verdict was unlikely to represent a clear "win" for either side and would probably be appealed in any event.

He said he was pleased many organisations had already appealed for peace and calm.

He said: "Apart from making an appeal for peace, it is the duty of all organisations concerned to actively work to maintain the peace. In particular, all organisations must urge their members not to spread rumours or make provocative statements ... It is the Government’s earnest hope that all sections of the people will cooperate with the Government in maintaining peace, order, harmony and tranquillity." ®

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