Hundreds of people arrested in Xinjiang for spreading rumours through texts

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Beijing, Feb. 26 (ANI): Chinese authorities have punished hundreds of people in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region for spreading rumours and separatist content through text messages during the Spring Festival holiday.

Two persons were detained on Feb 20, while the rest received administrative punishments for sending illegal text messages, according to a statement released by the regional police.

More than half of those punished are students and self-employed people. A number of people who sent the messages meant them as jokes, China Daily reports.

Text messaging services were suspended in the provincial capital of Urumqi last year because it was said to be a major tool to instigate violence, which left 197 people dead and over 1,700 injured.

Domestic text messaging services in the region resumed on Jan 17 after authorities found the overall situation stabilized, although sending messages overseas remains prohibited.

Each mobile phone user in Xinjiang was allowed a maximum of 20 messages a day, and they cannot transfer any unused messages next day.

The quota was increased to 50 a day during the Spring Festival holiday so people could send greetings to each other.

Police also fined many people in Urumqi for fabricating and spreading firearms-related rumours during the Spring Festival.

Xinjiang authorities have warned residents not to spread rumours about disease, unrest or terrorism and said that any offender will be punished. (ANI)

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