Maharashtra: July 1, five lynched
Tripura: June 28, anti-rumour campaigner and two others lynched
Gujarat: June 27, one lynched
Uttar Pradesh: June 18, one lynched & one critically injured
Assam: June 8, two lynched
Maharashtra: June 8, two lynched & seven injured
Karnataka: May 23, one lynched
Telangana: May 22, one lynched
Tamil Nadu: May 9, one lynched
Since 2015, India has witnessed over 30 incidents of mob lynching. No, they were not lynched for their political leaning, neither did they meet their fate because of their religious ideologies. One WhatsApp rumour that incited fear among the new internet generation in our country is the reason behind the mob frenzy.
Child kidnappers on the loose. They will come and take away your children in the middle of the night. They will then harvest their organs.
This is the redundant narrative that is spreading across different states. The captions of the images are translated in the local language, unrelated images and fake arrest photos are being circulated. Most of this is being spread in rural and tribal areas, where people might not be aware of fake news. They are new to the internet and are not capable of distinguishing between what is genuine and what is false. Many media houses have tried to debunk these viral fake news but they have failed to do so.
Pakistan educational video
Five people were lynched in Dhule district of Maharashtra on suspicion of being ‘child lifters’ on July 1. The incident took place in the tribal hamlet of Rainpada in Sakri taluka, about 325 km from Mumbai.
A fake video which made its way in Tamil Nadu is what spread panic amongst people. The video, which seems like a CCTV footage shows children playing on the street. Two men on a bike approach and quickly pick up one child and leave. This is the edited version of the video that has become viral in India.
In reality, it is an educational video that was shot in Pakistan. The entire video then goes on to show the men bringing back the child and holding up a banner which reads “It only takes a moment to kidnap a child from the streets of Karachi”. The video ends with the text “Every year, over 3000 children go missing in Karachi, Pakistan. Keep an eye on your child.” The abduction was staged to educate people about rampant child abduction in Karachi in 2016. This video was made to spread awareness in Karachi, but it has been mischievously edited and circulated in India, claiming it to be an incident of kidnapping by a notorious gang.
The Logical Indian Take
With cheaper phones and even cheaper data, internet usage has increased drastically in our country in the last couple of years. They are gullible and prone to believe rumours. What can be the immediate solution to fight this monster that fake news has become? Maybe the government can issue ad in newspapers, radio and television asking people to not fall prey to this. Maybe, the government should impose stricter laws for mob lynching. Whatever, it may be, action should be taken as soon as possible before another innocent person loses their life.