Once again the social media has proved to be an evil when it comes to false messages. As per Indiatoday report, in Visakhapatnam alone at least 12 people were thrashed by a mob after suspicion of them being child kidnappers within 24 hours of the news being circulated.One person lost his life in the mob lynching and five others were admitted in a hospital with severe injuries after they were thrashed by the crowd.
According to The News Minute, a fake WhatsApp message is in circulation in Jogulamba Gadwal district of Telangana claiming a notorious Parthi gang was responsible for kidnapping children in the state. After a series of fake news incidents coming in, the SP of Jogulamba Gadwal district, Rema Rajeshwari, ordered for an inquiry of the same.
SP Rema Rajeshwari said, “We are working on finding out the source of these messages. At present, we have sent teams to border areas of the district as the messages are in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi as well.”
She also mentioned that there were three kinds of messages been revolving among the citizens, referring to thieves, kidnappers to communally sensitive messages.
“Through our interactions with the locals, we found out that people are being carried away by visuals and photographs rather than text since many cannot read,” she said.
After some investigation, it turned out that the series of fake messages started from a teenager in Utkuru village in Alampur Mandal, which he said he didn’t know were false. Following the fake news, SP Rema Rajeshwari ordered her team to conduct an awareness program for the same, where they even mentioned that if anybody attempts to spread any more rumours, a legal action will be taken against them.
Recently, an incident was reported from Tamil Nadu which took place because of the WhatsApp fake forwards, where a 65-year-old woman named Rukmani, was led to death due to mob lynching and a 30-year-old man named Ganesh, was beaten up violently.
According to the report by India Times, “Because the man would not answer their questions, they beat him up severely,” a police officer said. “The villagers gouged out one of his eyes, attacked his face and head and kicked him and stamped on him till he was dead.”
The fake news was regarding people from the northeast who are looking to kidnap kids in their area. The women of the house are living in the extreme fear that they can lose their children any minute, the result of which they’ve shut their doors and have been guarding their homes day and night.
According to The News Minute, the false messages in the state began in April. “I live in Vellore and two kilometres from my house a child was abducted by a Hindi speaker,” the audio from an unknown person begins. A message targeting the people of Kancheepuram district reads, “Don’t allow your children to leave the house alone. Till today, 52 children have been abducted in the district. There are complaints in every police station.”
“These fake messages have led to unprecedented attacks across districts on anyone the public deems suspicious. Two days ago, in Kancheepuram, a local auto driver was mistaken for a Hindi speaker trying to abduct children and assaulted,” says Kancheepuram SP Santhosh Hadimani.
“The numbers that these messages propagate are completely wrong. In Kancheepuram for instance, no case of child abduction has been reported in the last two months,” he adds.
As reported by The New Indian Express, a 29-year-old man was arrested on 11th of May, Friday for spreading false news about child traffickers in the state through WhatsApp.
According to Anakkavoor Police, The arrested was identified as Veeraraghavan R, a mason. He posted a video on WhatsApp that said a group of North Indians were roaming around in the district to kidnap children.
Last year, the same happened in Jharkhand where a WhatsApp forward inhibited a sense of fear among the tribals in the state that said their children may be targeted by abduction gangs.
People who are outsiders or are residing in other states are getting mob lynched, stabbed, beaten and killed. This is not how we want our country to be, we cannot let someone innocent die. We, who spend most of our time surfing online and on our respective social media accounts should make sure that what we are reading and forwarding is true and should realize that any wrong step from us, can lead to an incident like this.
This is not the first time, that we’ve heard about fake rumours going around, we do come across them while using our social media accounts every now and then. What we can do today, is to not be a part of it and let others know that it is not true. People who are illiterate and live in the villages easily fall for fake news, the police are doing their bit by organizing awareness campaigns we must do our bit by reporting such messages false and misleading.